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Health secretary calls for NHS users to suggest health apps

The health secretary Andrew Lansley has thrown his weight behind consumer-developed apps and is calling for NHS patients and healthcare staff to suggest future health gadgets.

NHS: asks the public for future app ideas

NHS: asks the public for future app ideas

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Lansley announced yesterday (22 August) that new health app ideas would be crowd-sourced from consumers and health professionals in an effort to help patients make more informed decisions about their care.

Current NHS health apps available include a paediatric drug calculator, local service searches and an iBreastCheck app, which guides women checking for breast abnormalities.

Lansley said: "We want to give people better access to information that will put them in control of their health and help make informed choices about their healthcare.

"Over the next six weeks, we want to hear from patients, health professionals and budding app developers on their ideal new app.

"This is a unique opportunity for the NHS and those who develop apps to not only showcase their work but bring to life new ideas and realise true innovation in healthcare."

Three healthcare professionals and Julie Meyer, CEO of entrepreneurial advice company Ariadne Capital, will form the panel judging the apps submitted over the next six weeks.

Mike Anderson, CEO of app developer Chelsea Apps Factory, said the NHS is "brave" to develop further apps, after its integrated health records programme, proposed in 2002, hit finance and resource problems.

Anderson said: "Lansley’s plan is pure Big Society, but it’s also quite brave given the IT failures the NHS has recently experienced.

"Apps are about ordering disorder. That makes them the perfect tool for dealing with an industry where so much information [sometimes misinformation] is flying about.

"To build a great app you’ve got to put the customer in the room when you design it, and to his credit that’s what the Health Secretary is doing here.

"Healthcare information is constantly changing and the Department of Health will need to stay ahead of the curve via updates if it wants its app to be relevant."

Suggestions on the consultation website, mapsandapps.dh.gov.uk include a condom machine locator, a cycle journey planner and an app which helps monitor special dietary requirements.

In January, NHS Gloucestershire developed an app allowing users to register their mood and receive wellbeing advice.

NHS Direct’s health advice app also topped the BR app chart in January.

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