The government is launching a trial with three software developers to test apps that help with smoking, diabetes, depression and anxiety, V3 can exclusively reveal.
The pilot represents the government's ambition to inject more digital services and apps into the NHS to revolutionise the delivery of care in the public sector. It will run from late September until the end of January.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Health's Life Sciences division told V3 that several government health organisations will also work with the developers to pilot a system that will allow them to test whether their apps are suitable for NHS use.
This could be a huge boost to the number of apps that can be supplied and deployed in the NHS and related healthcare organisations.
The developers have yet to be named, but the self-assessment pilot will focus on apps aimed at midwives in the management of patients with gestational diabetes, helping people to stop smoking, and supporting patients with mental health issues.
"The pilot will help us see how the model works in practice, allow us to refine the questions used for the self-assessment, understand how and when to assess the responses provided, and identify gaps in the areas being covered," the spokeswoman told V3.
In effect, the initial part the endorsement framework will act as a preliminary stage for getting apps cleared for use in the NHS without needing developers to approach a government body directly, thereby speeding up the process.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and Public Health England will lead the pilot.
The pilot is stage one of four, and will form part of a larger app endorsement framework.
No date has been given for the second stage, but the spokeswoman said that the plan is to develop a community of clinical professionals, patients and charities that work on the assessment and endorsement process of apps for a wider variety of health problems.
This could involve setting up a dedicated body to assess the apps and processes of the endorsement framework, or crowdsourcing opinions and information from such a community.
Details on how it will be funded were not revealed, although the spokeswoman said that more information will be disclosed in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review expected in the autumn.
The pilot will not be platform specific and will welcome mobile apps for use on iOS and Android, as well as desktop and web apps.
The overall goal of the endorsement framework is to encourage health and care professionals to recommend the use of safe and effective digital applications by fellow medical workers as well as patients.
The pilot will need to determine how endorsed apps are showcased, but the aim is to invoke a feeling of confidence among patients to use apps to monitor their health and gather data that can be used to improve their medical care.
Life sciences minister George Freeman initially revealed rough plans for creating an endorsement model in a speech at the NHS Innovation Expo in Manchester, and outlined the need for more digital technology in public sector healthcare.
"We need to transform healthcare in the NHS from a 20th century model in which health is something done to you, to a 21st century world in which we empower people to take more responsibility over their own health and life choices," he said.
"A new endorsement model for NHS-approved apps and an innovation prize for mental health apps will help the NHS lead the way in giving patients more personalised care.
"Nearly 6.5 million patients can already book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online, and three million are registered for online access to GP records. But we need to continue to encourage patients to use new technologies to better manage their health, care and treatment."
Freeman's advocacy of digital technology in the NHS is given credence by the £21m saved by the NHS Spine infrastructure overhaul that supports communications across the whole healthcare service.
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