Health & medicine

Not up to standard: healthcare apps & the NHS

Healthcare app review company Orcha has found that the majority of healthcare apps used by NHS trusts do not meet the necessary standards, in part due to insufficient awareness of regulatory requirements. Abi Millar explores the challenges around regulating these apps and what can be done to ensure the NHS is only using the safest and most effective healthcare apps.

Over the last few years, the healthcare app market has taken off in a big way. According to health app review company Orcha, there are over 327,000 health apps currently available to download, ranging from those targeted at particular conditions to general fitness apps. You can download an app to track your weight loss, monitor your diabetes, share parenting advice, or even remind you to do your pelvic floor exercises.

Not all these apps are equally popular. Orcha notes that just 43 apps account for 83% of all health app downloads. Most of the rest have been downloaded less than 5,000 times – and many have been neglected. Almost two-thirds haven’t been updated in the last 18 months, and just 15% of those reviewed by Orcha meet minimum standards.

Arguably, the app market finds itself in a Wild West type situation – a new, exciting and fast-changing landscape, in which regulatory oversight hasn’t kept pace with innovation.

Read the rest of this article in the May 2021 edition of Medical Technology

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