New NHS apps aimed at speed­ing up ops

Apps group looks at early warn­ing sys­tem

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Greg Wright DEPUTY BUSI­NESS EDI­TOR @greg­wrightyp

A York­shire-based spe­cial­ist dig­i­tal team is help­ing to save lives and tax­pay­ers’ money.

Hazel Jones, NHS Dig­i­tal’s di­rec­tor for apps and wear­ables, hopes that her work will speed up the di­ag­no­sis of life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions and pro­vide an early warn­ing sys­tem to peo­ple who may be at risk.

Ms Jones said the NHS Dig­i­tal team based in Leeds aimed to give pa­tients and car­ers ac­cess to apps that can be used on­line or on mo­bile de­vices and can be trusted to help them find rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion about their health.

A York­shire-based spe­cial­ist dig­i­tal team is help­ing to save lives and tax­pay­ers’ money.

Hazel Jones, NHS Dig­i­tal’s di­rec­tor for apps and wear­ables, hopes that her work will speed up the di­ag­no­sis of life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions and pro­vide an early warn­ing sys­tem to peo­ple who may be at risk.

Ms Jones, who is a Leeds-based tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sional with more

The than 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, told York­shire Post: “I hope that we save lives. I lost one of my best friends, who was di­a­betic. She had moved from an­i­mal in­sulin to hu­man in­sulin. She went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up again.

“If she had been wear­ing a de­vice con­nected to her phone, that could have alerted her by an alarm to let her know when her sug­ars were get­ting low or too high she might have lived.”

Ms Jones said the NHS Dig­i­tal team in Leeds aimed to give pa­tients and car­ers ac­cess to apps (a soft­ware pro­gramme that can be used on­line or on mo­bile de­vices) that can be trusted to help them find rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion about their health.

She added: “Rather than go away and build our own apps, we look at apps that are al­ready out there in the mar­ket­place, but then take them through an as­sess­ment process.

“We as­sess them across nine dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. We look at things like pri­vacy, data pro­tec­tion, us­abil­ity and clin­i­cal in­di­ca­tors of ef­fec­tive­ness.”

The apps usu­ally have to be mod­i­fied be­fore they can be ap­proved and added to the NHS app li­brary.

Ms Jones said: “It’s the equiv­a­lent of three peo­ple that carry out the as­sess­ments.

“We’ve been work­ing with the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Clin­i­cal Ex­cel­lence (NICE) and other reg­u­la­tors.”

So far 44 apps have been ap­proved by the NHS.

Ms Jones added: “We work with NHS Eng­land to re­view the clin­i­cal value of the app and then we carry out tech­ni­cal as­sess­ments.

“It then gets the stamp of ap­proval to be an at­trib­uted app. It cov­ers things like men­tal health and ma­ter­nity.”

The pol­icy of adopt­ing ex­ist­ing apps is a more ef­fi­cient use of NHS re­sources, ac­cord­ing to Ms Jones.

The dig­i­tal team, which has 12 mem­bers, is also join­ing forces with busi­nesses that have the ex­per­tise to carry out as­sess­ments on their be­half.

Ms Jones added: “We’re look­ing for ways to of­fer more choice. We’re invit­ing busi­nesses in that want to be as­ses­sors on our be­half, so we can im­prove the vol­ume.”

The work be­ing car­ried out by the NHS Dig­i­tal team in Leeds is al­ready gain­ing recog­ni­tion in the UK and over­seas.

Health pro­fes­sion­als in Scot­land and Ire­land have vis­ited York­shire to study the team’s work.

Ms Jones said: “We also wel­comed a del­e­ga­tion of health in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als from Swe­den. More re­cently, we’ve been con­tacted by Aus­tralian and Ja­panese pro­fes­sion­als who have come to Leeds be­cause they’ve heard we are lead­ing the way.”

She added: “We’ve got a text ser­vice that chil­dren can use to con­tact their school nurse. There are things they would rather place in a text than say face to face. We’ve got web­sites on there as well as apps.”

Al­though the team has been fo­cus­ing on apps, Ms Jones plans to ex­tend its scope to in­clude wear­able de­vices.

Ms Jones added: “The in­no­va­tion is al­ready out there.

“Once it has been given the NHS seal of ap­proval, not only will we be sign-post­ing pa­tients to it, but we will also build a mech­a­nism for the health care and so­cial care pro­fes­sion­als to have a means of start­ing to in­tro­duce these tools and de­vices dur­ing a con­sul­ta­tion.”

PIC­TURE: BRUCE ROLLINSON

VI­TAL WORK: Hazel Jones is the NHS Dig­i­tal’s di­rec­tor for apps and wear­ables.

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