NHS looks to grow app library with self-service portal for developers

Written by Sam Trendall on 7 June 2019 in News
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NHS Digital is hoping to grow the number of accredited third-party apps available via its online library with the launch of a self-service portal through which developers can submit their apps for assessment.

The portal has been live in public beta mode since last month, and is due to launch fully in September. NHS Digital claimed that the implementation of the platform means that there is now, for the first time, a “fully digital end to end process for developers, assessors and auditors”.

“The same robust and rigid NHS criteria that apps will need to pass remain unchanged in the digital assessment questionnaire,” it added. 


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There are currently 73 apps available through the library, which was created two years ago. Offerings include programs to support people suffering from long-term conditions and illnesses such as breast cancer, pulmonary disease, and mental-health issues. Many apps are available for free, while others cost as much as £99 upfront, plus ongoing subscriptions.

To be included on the library, apps have to be assessed and approved in nine categories, including data protection, accessibility, clinical safety, and evidence of outcomes.

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.”

He added: “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.”

The drive to expand the number of external apps offered to citizens comes as plans for the NHS’s own application are being rethought. Rather than serving as a “digital front door” to the entirety of the health service, the focus will now be on opening up APIs so as to encourage private-sector firms to create apps that can plug into the NHS app.

 

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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