Mark SayManaging EditorThursday 15 October 2015

NHS England closes Health Apps Library

Service on NHS Choices to be replaced after Imperial College study to points to concerns over data protection

NHS England is to close the Health Apps Library hosted on its NHS Choices website, following the conclusion of a pilot that has lasted for more than three years.

SmartphoneAccording to the relevant page on NHS Choices, the library was launched March 2013 for a period of testing that has now been concluded. It says there will now be a “transitioning”, with the National Information Board using the findings in developing a new assessment model for patient focused health apps.

This follows reports of concerns over privacy risks with some of the apps. Last month,  BMC Medicine published a study by a team at Imperial College London identifying shortcomings with some apps and saying there were systematic gaps in compliance with data protection principles.

The library is due to close tomorrow, 16 October. No figures are available on how many downloads have been made.

Upgrade work

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “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. 

“Building on the success of the Mental Health Apps Library, which assesses apps and digital tools against further clinical standards, 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.”

A Mental Health Apps Library was set up in March, and includes digital tools that can be used for managing mild and moderate depression and anxiety.

The spokesperson told UKAuthority the next would be for diabetes, but so far there is no schedule for its implementation.

Image from Victorgrigas, Creative Commons 3.0 through Wikimedia