GP IT

Health app evaluation organisation ORCHA has launched a survey to better understand how digital technology can be improved in the healthcare sector.

The survey, aimed at medical and clinical professionals, will bridge the question: what matters when offering technology to patients.

ORCHA conducts reviews for NHS England and NHS Digital to help accelerate the uptake of technology across the country.

Liz Ashall-Payne, chief executive, told Digital Health: “ORCHA very aware from talking with various CCGs, GP practices and NHS Digital, that we currently know very little about what healthcare professionals actually want and need from digital technologies if they are to recommend them to patients in routine practice.

“It’s all well and good providing the access to health app libraries, but without trusted healthcare providers recommending and directing patients to tried and trusted digital technology, it is unlikely to have much of an impact in the real world, unfortunately.”

ORCHA has recently asked healthcare providers to list what’s more influential when it comes to recommending digital technology, including, whether an app has published evidence, a CE mark, or came recommended by other healthcare providers.

It’s hoped the research, which has been sent to the journal Lancet Digital Health, will be able to quantitatively determine factors likely to promote engagement with the sector.

“We will be able to answer questions such as how much health care providers are willing to spend on an app, whether they would prescribe an app without evidence if it was recommended by another provider, and whether providers have an intrinsic age bias – for example, more likely to prescribe digital technologies and apps to younger vs older patients.”

Ms Ashall-Payne recently said the four biggest problems facing medical apps in today’s market are awareness, accessibility, trust and governance.

Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine event on medical apps she said addressing governance and trust issues has already begun, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) publishing an updated version of its evidence standards framework for digital health technologies in March.

Since it was established, ORCHA has evaluated more than 5,000 apps on the market. In September 2018, the company was enlisted by NHS Digital to help verify applications for its apps library.

The organisation is looking for about 250 responses to the survey, which takes five minutes to complete.

You can complete the survey here.