NHS launches apps competition for better citizen healthcare

23 Aug 2011

The UK’s National Health Service has launched a new apps competition to create apps that would help patient make informed decisions about healthcare.

UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today launched a call for new ideas for health apps.

Everyone, including patients, doctors, nurses and other health professionals and app developers, is invited to submit new ideas of health apps and online maps they think would be useful.

One leading example of an app that benefits patients is Choosing Well, developed by NHS Yorkshire & Humber for their local community, which allows people to search for their nearest NHS health services.

As part of this drive for ideas, Andrew Lansley has also asked people to come forward and name their favourite existing health applications.

Speaking to patients, doctors and nurses at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London today, Andrew Lansley said: “We want to give people better access to information that will put them in control of their health and help make informed choices about their healthcare.

“Over the next six weeks, we want to hear from patients, health professionals and budding app developers on their ideal new app. This is a unique opportunity for the NHS and those who develop apps to not only showcase their work but bring to life new ideas and realise true innovation in healthcare.”

Lansley also announced the panel of judges who would choose the best apps to be showcased at an event in autumn:

“I’m pleased to have such influential panel members representing the NHS, patients and clinicians as well as technology and those who support entrepreneurs. Innovation is what will help us create a more modern and personalised NHS for patients.”

The panel of judges includes:

  • Dr Shaibal Roy, National Institute for Health Research Investigator who champions the use of digital technology in healthcare;
  • Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director and supporter of helping patients get access to transparent information about hospitals and their health;
  • Julie Meyer, online Dragon’s Den judge, nurturer of talent and CEO of Ariadne Capital; and
  • Jennie Ritchie-Campbell, Director of Cancer Services Innovation at charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Dr Shaibal Roy, National Institute for Health Research Investigator, said: “Useful and easy to use smartphone apps and information maps will surely support both patients and clinicians in their shared decisions to improve outcomes.

“I hope this work will help the NHS understand completely new ways to help improve outcomes for individuals and their families. There are inspiring apps and incredible ideas that have never before been gathered and shared nationally. We hope to accomplish this quickly, and in doing so, build a community of champions to explore this particular view of the future.”

“Our staff are already realising the benefits of medical apps and have developed a number of these which are proving popular with the medical community,” Dr Ian Abbs, Medical Director at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust explained.

“Some of our apps are already European best sellers, and provide instant access to the most up-to-date guidance on topics including patient safety, thrombosis and paediatric drug calculations – all at the touch of a button.

“The possibility of apps helping to improve patient care is enormous and we are already seeing examples of their success in, for example, emergency situations, where clinicians can now quickly and accurately double check complex drug dose calculations.”

The Health Secretary tested out a number of existing health apps along with patients, clinicians and panel members, including one developed by NHS Southampton, which gives practical support to clinicians when treating patients with infections and a breakthrough breast cancer iBreastCheck app whose simple informative guide helps women check for breast abnormalities.

For the next six weeks, people can visit www.mapsandapps.dh.gov.uk and suggest favourite apps, ideas for apps or health maps they would like to see, as well as vote for their favourite ideas submitted by others.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years