A few weeks ago, this blog talked about how the rise of healthcare apps may have been cemented by the news that Apple were creating lists of the best apps for healthcare professionals. Now, the NHS has launched their own library of apps to help people manage their health. There are already around 70 apps in the library, which have been reviewed to ensure they are clinically safe and relevant to people in the UK. This process involves checking that all apps submitted comply with data protection laws and with trusted sources of information, such as NHS Choices, which are both minimum requirements. Apps that meet these minimum requirements will then be reviewed to see whether they could potentially cause harm to a person’s health or condition, and a clinical assurance team made up of doctors, nurses and safety specialists, will potentially work with app developers to make sure an app adheres to the required safety standards.
Of course, the NHS library could become a sort of stamp of approval for health apps in the UK, although with 70 apps already featured and seemingly minimal entry requirements, it will be interesting to see how they ensure people are being directed to the most useful and relevant apps for them. One consideration is that the scale of apps included could become overwhelming, while the quality and effectiveness of an app in itself will not necessarily be guaranteed provided it is not unsafe. The website does state that the review process will be updated and improved over time though, and this is still an important development for the industry.
In a similar vein, this post on The Health Care Blog by Leslie Kernisan, who practices in geriatrics, provides some excellent insight into how and why health apps should, if at all, be prescribed. Kernisan suggests that while many digital health enthusiasts expect that apps will become routinely used tools in healthcare, clinicians need be more thoughtful when recommending apps, basing their recommendation on medical rather than marketing considerations.
The article is an absolute must-read for people with an interest in digital within the health industry. It is really interesting to see someone take a step back from all the noise there is about apps and provide some genuine insight. Although the post focuses on the attitudes of healthcare professionals, there’s a lesson in there for communications professionals and the industry too. While it might be tempting to develop an app or some other creative digital tool every time you are handed a brief, it is worth taking a step back and assessing how appropriate and valuable this will actually be on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, it is worth reading this from the social media team at Intouch Solutions. On March 7, Facebook announced a major redesign to its News Feed and this article looks specifically at the implications the design change will have on pharma Facebook pages. If you or a client you work with community manage any pharma Facebook pages this is absolutely essential reading.