21 Jan 2019
What 3 things will activate the nation?
The NHS long term plan acknowledges that services must recognise that individuals have different needs when it comes to access to health care. It places an emphasis on ‘responsiveness to the diverse people who use and fund our health service’. It highlights that service users have ‘individual preferences on type and location of care’ and indicates that ‘with the right support, people of all ages can […] take more control of how they manage their physical and mental well-being’. It’s clear to me that ORCHA’s vision is completely aligned with the vision for the NHS.
ORCHA is the world leading health app advisor. We help NHS and care organisations, along with their professional communities, to successfully integrate safe and effective health apps into their services. Our mission is simple – to get more people using great digital health products and services.
After working with 15% of the NHS, we’ve identified three main barriers to this goal, which we strive to break down every day:
A huge chunk of the population dabble with fitness apps, and many dip in and out of well-being Apps. But the statistics show that the general population don’t really think of apps as a viable option for health care management to complement or reduce their need for use of NHS patient facing services.
We all know how to find and download health an app, right? Actually, no we don’t. Finding apps in health and care can be very difficult. A search term in an App store will return some of the available apps, with little correlation between the top-rated Apps on these platforms and those Apps that achieve a high level of compliance and accreditation.
Reviews on google play or the App store aren’t reliable. How does the general public find apps that suit their needs and are effective? How do professionals know where to go for apps that have been checked for data privacy, clinical safety and efficacy and system security?
On the continuing journey to break down these barriers ORCHA continues to develop a range of products and services. Products and services which are ready to support the NHS in its newly announced vision.
Health and care apps are stringently reviewed and placed in the ORCHA app library which acts as a comparison site. But how do we get people of all ages to use these reviewed apps to support their health and well-being?
For those that are already looking
NHS trusts and CCGs are commissioning ORCHA to create local app libraries which they can customise with their own local branding and link in to their patient facing sites. ORCHA also reviews apps to populate the NHS national app library which is accessible to everyone.
These sites can reflect local and/or national health agendas and priorities and therefore usher patients in the right direction. This means that the NHS locally and nationally can focus on the conditions prioritised in the NHS long term plan e.g. cancer, mental health, diabetes, multimorbidity, healthy ageing, children’s health, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and learning disability and autism.
For those that are not looking
Many patients may not take the initiative to find these sites and we need to support people of all ages and backgrounds to access these resources. The majority of people have a smart phone and/or iPad, but just don’t realise its potential to support their health and well-being. People don’t know that there are apps that can support diagnosed health conditions (e.g. COPD, diabetes) provide advice and support (e.g. smoking cessation, child health), or meet a need whilst they’re on a waiting list (e.g. help with sleep, anxiety or depression), amongst many other things.
But we do know that patients look to professionals for health recommendations and advice and they trust what they are told. So, harnessing this, ORCHA provide the pro-solution enabling NHS professionals to recommend or ‘prescribe’ an app directly to their patient or service user. I know as a clinician I was regularly asked to recommend apps, but I didn’t know what was out there, which were effective, safe etc. Using the pro-solution, clinicians know that that the apps they are recommending have been stringently reviewed.
Well, this post by no means covers all the fantastic work that ORCHA does, or how this work completements the NHS Long Term Plan. But what we know is that the NHS is committed to supporting the population in harnessing the power of digital technology to improve patient care and engagement, as well as redirect patient facing services to those that need it. The Long Term Plan outlines the future of our NHS and indicates that it needs to work with other organisations to achieve their goals, and ORCHA are proud to be supporting and working with our national treasure to do this.
Up next… empowering young people to use digital health
Read about the author Lisa Simmons Clinical Implementations Manger, on LinkedIn