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DH urges promotion of health apps

22 February 2012

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GPs could soon be encouraged to direct patients to health apps to allow them to manage long-term conditions.

Last year’s call by the Department of Health for people to name their favourite health apps led to nearly 500 entries and over 12,600 votes and comments.

The government claims the development of smartphone apps is the “next step” in its drive to increase patient control and choice.

Among the most popular app ideas were those designed to help manage long-term conditions like diabetes and to track and monitor blood pressure.

GPs and community nurses across England are already communicating with patients via health apps such as ‘Patients Know Best’, whereby each patient receives access to their medical records and controls who has access to them from their smartphone.

The app, which is also being used by staff in Great Ormond Street Hospital, allows patients to have online consultations, receive automated explanations of their results, and work with clinicians to develop a personalised care plan.

At an event showcasing the best ideas for new and existing health smartphone apps, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he wanted to develop health apps that track blood pressure and provide practical help in making staying healthy the norm.

“Information about your health is a service – just like the GP surgeries, Walk-in Centres and hospitals that millions of people access every week.  With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat,” he said.

“Innovation and technology can revolutionise the health service, and we are looking at how the NHS can use these apps for the benefit of patients, including how GPs could offer them for free.”

Further details about the health apps initiative will be revealed in the government’s Information Strategy, which is expected this Spring.