The NHS Digital Apps Library has finally been launched some four years after the pilot project was delivered - although the website remains in beta.
Juliet Bauer, the director of digital experience at NHS England, and Rachel Murphy, delivery director at NHS Digital, announced the launch of the new library, stating that their vision is for NHS.UK to host leading healthcare apps so they are accessible and trusted by the public.
The website enables users to filter apps by categories such as cancel, dementia, dental or diabetes.
Apps include ‘FearFighter', an online course for people who struggle with phobias, panic or anxiety, ‘Brush DJ', an app that plays two minutes of your music so you brush your teeth for the right amount of time, and Couch to 5K, an app designed to get people off the couch and running five kilometres in nine weeks.
"Over time, people will start to see more apps appearing that are labelled ‘being tested in the NHS' or ‘NHS Approved'," said Bauer and Murphy.
"These products have been built on a solid evidence base and are part of an NHS programme; monitoring and collecting data and evidence of effectiveness towards positive patient outcomes," they added.
According to Bauer and Murphy, all of the apps have been through an assessment and are safe to use.
The NHS has also launched a new Mobile Health space for developers on Developer.nhs.uk. Bauer and Murphy said it would become the primary marketing platform to advertise where digital intervention is required.
History of Apps in the NHS
The organisation first released a Health Apps Library back in March 2013, and by 2015 it hosted around 230 apps.
However, the review criteria - which were designed to provide a framework to assess those apps for suitability before they're published for the public to download - had been labelled "weak" by health privacy campaign group medConfidential.
Two of the apps, Kevtch and Doctoralia were removed from the site by NHS England after Computing had spoken with medConfidential.
Several months later, researchers at Imperial College London found that a number of the smartphone health apps that had been accredited by the NHS did not properly secure customer data and had poor information privacy practices.
The study looked at 79 of the 230 apps available at the time, and found that nearly a third (29 per cent) were sending the data - which included both personal and health data - without encrypting it at all.
The NHS then said that it had removed vulnerable apps or contacted developers to ensure they were updated. After the researchers' report, the NHS said it was working to "upgrade" the Health Apps Library.
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