NHS England to relaunch its recommended health apps library as condition-focused "app stores"

By Aditi Pai
09:39 am
Hands Up Therapy, app from NHS library Hands Up Therapy, app from NHS library

The National Health Service in England will complete its two-year pilot of the NHS health app library this week, on October 16th, and the organization plans to relaunch the offering as a series of "app stores" that focus on specific diseases and conditions.

When NHS's pilot first began, in March 2013, the company said in a post that a key focus for the library was ensuring that the apps listed were clinically safe and suitable for people living in the UK.

“We are working to upgrade the Health Apps Library, which was launched as a pilot site in 2013 and reviews and recommends apps against a defined set of criteria," a spokesperson for NHS England tole MobiHealthNews in an email. "...we will launch a series of ‘apps stores’ to promote clinically validated apps in a range of other areas including diabetes, obesity prevention, maternity and early years, smoking cessation, and COPD.”

The timing of the pilot's conclusion coincided somewhat with a cross-sectional six-month assessment of the NHS health app library, published in late September, Computer Weekly pointed out. This study found that a majority of the apps didn't protect users' data. One finding was 66 percent of the 35 apps sending identifying information over the internet did not use encryption and 20 percent did not have a privacy policy.

In its explanation of future plans for the health app library, the NIH said that the National Information Board used the findings from the pilot to create and launch another pilot of what they claim is a more thorough assessment model for apps.

These app stores, NHS said, would build on the success of the mental health apps library, launched in March, which, according to the spokesperson, assesses apps and digital tools against further clinical standards.

But just this week, a paper was published in Evidence Based Mental Health, which found that of the 14 apps in the NHS library for depression and anxiety, only four offer scientific proof that they work with patients, and just two of them have been properly evaluated for clinical effectiveness. There were a total of 27 apps in the mental health app library when the researchers evaluated these apps.


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