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Digital health apps library to extend across South-West

04/10/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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A group of integrated care systems (ICSs) in the South-West has taken steps to give their populations access to a digital health apps library.

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They have established a partnership and come to a three-year agreement with app review and distribution company the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) to launch local versions similar to the Our Dorset app library across the region.

The move will provide app libraries for ICSs in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Devon, Cornwall/Kernow, BSW (Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire) and BNSSG (Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire). The region covers a population of 5.6 million people.

Each ICS will have its own app library of hundreds of highly rated health apps relevant to different medical and lifestyle issues.

ORCHA said that, while individual ICSs will have slightly different objectives depending on their demographics, two big areas of focus across the whole of the South-West will be mental health support and weight management.

The company will create and maintain the libraries centrally and has forecast that the initiative will provide savings of about 30% for the ICSs.

Giving people tools

Dhana Lamér, digital transformation programme manager South-West for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Weight management, in particular, is an issue in our region, as in every other region, as obesity can lead to type two diabetes. The NHS currently spends around 10% of its entire budget on this condition, so it’s increasingly evident that we have to do things differently.

“Our NHS clinicians will always support people on their weight loss journeys, but giving people access to top quality digital tools will help them manage their health better on a day-to-day basis.  Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference.”

ORCHA said it reviews health apps against 350 standards, including elements of the NICE framework – and that only apps that achieve a score of over 65% for clinical assurance, data privacy and usability will be featured on its app libraries.

Fresh reviews are then triggered each time an app is updated, so that standards are maintained.

Image from iStock, ipopba

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