NHS Digital has launched a portal for developers to assess apps for possible inclusion in the NHS Apps Library.
It went live on 20 May in public beta and is scheduled to go fully live in September, providing an online self-service tool for developers to assess whether their apps are likely to be accepted for the library.
They are able to assess their apps against criteria in nine categories including clinical safety, data security and user accessibility.
Approved assessors use the same criteria in deciding whether to approve or rejects the apps.
Ian Phoenix, director of citizen technology at NHS Digital, said: “Health and care is one of the fastest growing segments in the apps market, with literally hundreds of thousands of apps available in smartphone apps stores. We know patients really value having an NHS library which they can use as a trusted source of information on which apps are safe and effective.
“It is therefore no surprise that there is high demand among developers to have their apps considered for inclusion and the launch of this digital portal should help accelerate that process to give patients the options of more apps, improving their ability to look after their own health and wellbeing.
“This is about streamlining the process, but apps will still need to meet the same rigorous NHS standards to pass the assessment to appear on the library.”
Writing in a blogpost, NHS Digital’s lead user researcher Janet Morgan said the portal should help to increase the number of apps and digital tools being assessed by the NHS.
App development has been cited as a central element of NHS England’s digitisation plans, with calls for the development of an ecosystem to expand the range of digital health services, and the appointment last year of Our Mobile Health to support their assessment.
NHS Digital said there are currently over 70 apps listed on the NHS Apps Library – which went fully live in February – for a range of purposes, including mental health, maternity, diabetes, sleep and healthy lifestyles.