I know a 10 year old with a better grasp of how app stores work than NHS England

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“After four years of wrangling, the UK’s National Health Service has unveiled its library of certified mobile health apps – containing only one approved app. The NHS Digital Apps Library is designed to showcase mobile health tools that are certified by the NHS, while a companion site, the Mobile Health space, will be a resource for mHealth developers looking for NHS guidelines and projects. Unveiled on April 10 in what officials are calling a beta test, the library features one approved app, myCOPD, along with two apps addressing mental health issues, Cove and Chill Panda, that are still being tested. Another 21 apps are listed on the site as “safe to use,” though they haven’t yet been certified. “Our vision is for NHS.UK to host leading healthcare apps so they are accessible and trusted by the public,” Juliet Bauer, director of digital experience at NHS England, and Rachel Murphy, delivery director at NHS Digital, said in an accompanying blog. “The new digital tools pages on NHS.UK have been designed to showcase a selected number of apps while we test our thinking. Each tool has been through an assessment and is safe to use.”

It seems NHS England has a bottomless pit of resources to chuck at half baked ideas for how Patients might want to use their mobiles but the reality is their vision is unworkable because they don’t understand how mobile platforms work.

Because of their global business models the companies that own the 2 major smartphone operating system platforms (Apple/iOS and Google/Android) don’t allow third parties to host apps for download to their devices. Even if NHS England managed to get a basic app review site up and running (something they clearly find very challenging) it’s not going to add up to much more than a hill of beans eg. Patients/Carers who will read about apps on their NHS Digital Apps Library when then have to venture over to the AppStore/GooglePlay to download the app and there they will again be faced with well designed consumer ratings and suggestions for other similar apps.

There is too much waste already in the NHS on pointless, poorly conceived and potentially dangerous apps and I cannot see how the NHS will do anything with this outdated ‘vision’ other than continue to waste limited resources and divert attention away from the productive efforts there are to educate staff and Patients on the opportunity to use mobile to improve the quality and effectiveness of care delivery.

I feel the NHS would get a lot more return on investment if it committed to education and rolling out the mHealth course we developed to staff. Failing that I don’t see why they don’t set their ambitions a bit lower and rip off our course and roll out their own version to staff because it’s a lot easier than trying to make a cheap knock off rival to the global smartphone app stores.

Related posts:

Watch video of Bob Gann, Director of Widening Digital Participation at NHS England, explaining why the NHS is paying for deep fried chip shops to give free WiFi to customers in the hope that they’ll use it to become more healthy (Feb 2016)

How should we achieve Martha Lane Fox’s 4 key recommendations to the National Information Board? (Dec 2015).

How would the Born Mobile generation redesign that Patient Care Experience? (Sept 2015).

Update:

An interesting discussion on Twitter:

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