Passionate about the opportunities that technology and particularly apps offer to improve health and care efficiencies and outcomes, Liz founded ORCHA, the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Application determined to present a way to offer much-needed guidance to app developers to help raise app quality, as well as helping the public and professionals to confidently find and apply apps that could genuinely improve public, patient and organisational outcomes.
Q: What are some of the most innovative healthcare apps that you are excited about at the moment?
The most exciting aspect of the healthcare apps market is, to me, its breadth and depth. There can be many apps for the same health condition, yet each caters to individual needs. Innovation is most evident when one condition area of health apps comprises a great variety of apps with different functions to fit with specific requirements. For example, the fact that there are many differentiated apps within the large quantity of anxiety apps on the market, provides ORCHA with an opportunity to review and examine the whole landscape of what anxiety apps can offer.
Q: How has the ORCHA Review process shaped the new apps that enter the market - have you seen standards rising?
The ORCHA Review process uses 226 measures to score apps according to their Clinical Assurance, Data Privacy and User Experience. It categorises apps in one of 5 Levels (0-4) based on their area of focus and functional capabilities. The more ‘health’ focussed and functionally rich an app is, the higher its Level. We also provide bespoke, targeted improvement reports to app developers, and advise developers on how they can achieve a higher ORCHA Score. Those developers that take our advice have improved their apps consistently and, consequently, develop more trusted apps. ORCHA has recently launched a User Experience Project, in partnership with the Hartree Centre, through which app developers will have the opportunity to work alongside ORCHA and key NHS leaders to help shape future standards and UX measures. A full project description and data specification is available by contacting UXProject@orcha.co.uk
Q: Taking into consideration the three challenges of awareness, access and trust - if you had the power to change one thing about the healthcare app market overnight, what would it be?
The main aspect of the healthcare app market that I would change is a readiness across healthcare systems to learn about and adopt digital health solutions. This would involve education and training of frontline staff. There is a workforce development opportunity, in that healthcare staff should be trained in the digital toolkits that are now available. Creating this readiness and understanding across healthcare systems would increase uptake of mHealth usage in terms of clinicians recommending digital health treatment options to patients.
Q: There are over 300,000 healthcare apps - but is there a gap in the market that you would like developers to take on the challenge to create something new?
Considering that there are now over 365,000 healthcare apps on the market, there are multiple apps that cater to a wide variety of health conditions. There is, however, a need for fit-for-purpose products for less commonly known conditions, more specific target audiences, and populations that aren’t necessarily mainstream. For example, there is a wealth of diabetes apps, yet not many of these are aimed at child diabetes. There is also a need for more health and care apps for teenagers, as neither child nor adult apps would quite fit with this demographic. A further gap for developers to consider is apps aimed at elderly people, as well as people that are visually or cognitively impaired. If you are aware of or are developing any such apps for specific needs or conditions, do feel free to get in touch with ORCHA at firstname.lastname@example.org.