Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Case Study

Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Lucia Victor

Situation

In 2019, Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System (ICS) (now Humber and North Yorkshire ICS) set out their Strategy for Digital Transformation. At the time, the population served by the ICS was 1.4 million people, with 23% of the population living in the most deprived areas of the UK, and a high proportion of this population living in extremely rural and isolated areas. 

The ICS was under a great deal of pressure. 8.9% of the population were aged 75+, and of the under-75s, cancer was the leading cause of death – killing over 4,000 a year, with lung cancer as the biggest contributor. Smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity were higher than the national average, and 14% of 16-24 year olds had mental health illnesses. 36% of A&E visits were due to unavailability of General Practice services, and 40% of patients visiting A&E required no treatment. 

If no transformational changes took place, the Humber, Coast and Vale ICS expected a budget deficit of at least £420 million by 2020/21. 

Digital transformation was fundamental to improving the health of both citizens and the system itself. By harnessing the innovative use of digital solutions to deliver high-quality care and empower citizens to self-manage their health, the ICS could support its population and health and care professionals, whilst improving efficiencies within the system.

During the process of developing its digital strategy, the ICS commissioned a public survey to ensure any digital transformation was aligned with their citizens’ needs. Amongst the responses to questions on digital improvements to the patient experience were several requests for patient-related healthcare apps.

Despite the fact that the growing adoption of digital health was clear, many health and care professionals had difficulty knowing how to incorporate it into their service delivery. Although there are a great many digital health technologies available for a huge range of conditions, staff reported it was hard to tell which of the hundreds of thousands of them available would be relevant and beneficial to the vulnerable people they support.

Solution

The Humber, Coast and Vale ORCHA Digital Health Library launched in 2019 at hcv.orcha.co.uk (now at hny.orcha.co.uk), with the intention of delivering quality-assured digital health to their population. The Library contained only apps compliant with safety standards, and provided an easy way to search for the highest rated apps across a wide range of issues. 

In 2020, the project team chose supporting healthy living and long-term condition management as key focus areas for their population, particularly with face-to-face services being halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team identified social prescribers as being particularly well-placed to deliver these services, and connected ORCHA’s team behind the implementation of the Library with teams such as Citizens Advice Clinic. 

Results

Social prescribers at the Citizens Advice Clinic found the inclusion of assessed digital health technologies within their work to be an incredibly valuable additional tool. 

Elaine Elsdon at the Citizens Advice Clinic was introduced to the Humber ORCHA Library in May 2020, and began using it right away. She has found that the assurance of being able to signpost people to the health technologies available, in combination with the robust review process behind their inclusion in the Library, is very reassuring to the people she supports. The wide variety of health and care technologies (including apps) that are identified in the Library for each condition area means that she can identify support for the wide range of people supported by the Clinic. If a client presents an issue which she hasn’t previously found a solution for, she can simply search to see which assessed solutions are available, and recommend them securely to her clients.

Mainly focusing on mental health and exercise and weight management apps, Elaine has adopted the recommendation of apps to her clients, with resounding success. Many of the clients being supported by the Clinic haven’t considered using apps for their health, but may be looking for support either in addition to or as an alternative to medication and traditional therapies. As accessing services became difficult during lockdown, Citizens Advice clients have found great use for apps to support the management of their own health. Furthermore, as many felt during the pandemic that they might be using up limited resources which would be better spent elsewhere, or that the complexities of trying to access these services was causing them stress, the instant accessibility of support provided by health apps was and remains very much preferable. As traditional services have begun to be reinstated, Elaine has found that health apps have continued to provide support to her clients, some of whom don’t wish to access helplines or face-to-face or group therapy sessions.

The ORCHA Pro functionality has also been incredibly helpful to Elaine, allowing her to keep track of which apps she has recommended to whom, and based on this, to find solutions for clients with similar health concerns. As well as being able to track previously successful apps, Elaine can find new apps, and apps for health concerns she hasn’t previously been presented with. Furthermore, through ORCHA’s Digital Health Academy, Elaine can continue to develop her understanding and use of digital health.

Elaine Elsdon, Link Worker at Citizens Advice Clinic said

“Without ORCHA, I just would not have ever considered recommending any app at all. So for me, it’s opened up a completely new world. And therefore, it’s influenced me. It’s made me a better practitioner because I have more tools available to me, and it’s opened up a wider conversation with my clients about different kinds of support that are available out there.  I think that can only be good, for me as a practitioner but also for my clients because it gives them a much broader opportunity to look into options that might be a better fit for their needs. Not everybody wants to go to a face-to-face group in the community, and something like an app might just prove to be a perfect solution for someone.”

The health apps themselves have had a really beneficial effect for many clients. Mental health apps in particular had very positive effects for those who had perhaps been guided through various coping strategies, but, due to the nature of mental health illnesses, found it difficult to remember what they were supposed to do when they were struggling. By accessing mental health support on their phones, however, they found that they could practice these strategies as many times as they needed to, without feeling judged in any way, or as if they were taking up time or resources. One mental health app in particular, an AI chatbot app called Woebot, has been very successful in supporting Citizens Advice clients, as it allows them to work through and reframe thought patterns they are struggling with, as many times as they need to. One user described it as “a friend in my back pocket 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Chloe, a client at Citizens Advice Clinic said

“[The app] is very good.  It helped me to change my mindset.  I can have self-destructive and negative thought patterns and it helped me to challenge those thoughts.  It’s such a shame I didn’t have this app in Lockdown.  It’s so helpful because I can just offload to the app any time of the day or night and clear my head.  I think of this as my little buddy, and I look forward to the next goal we can work on together.”

To date, the Humber Library (now relaunched as Humber and North Yorkshire, in line with changes to the ICS) has had almost 10,000 page views. There are over 100 ORCHA Pros registered to the Humber site, with the most popular apps being recommended residing within the mental health and healthy living categories, and having a particular focus on anxiety and depression, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioural therapy. Mental health is by far the most searched term within the Library, but searches for diabetes, fitness and weight management apps are also common.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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Yorkshire Smokefree using digital health products to support service delivery

Case Study

Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Lucia Victor

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is an integrated and partnership-based provider of community and mental health services to a population of more than 1 million across Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. Its 4,200 staff work from 56 main sites, and with people in their own homes, or in community-based locations.

The Partnership’s four strategic objectives are to improve health, improve care, improve resources and make the organisation a great place to work. To achieve these, one of the organisation’s big ambitions is to be innovative.

This drive to create new ways of working can be seen across the organisation and Yorkshire Smokefree (YSF), its stop smoking service, is the latest example. YSF provides stop smoking support to people living in Barnsley, Calderdale, Doncaster, Sheffield and Wakefield. Faced with all communities displaying higher than national average levels of smoking the service looked to see how technology can better engage with people, to improve care and improve health.

The service already offered face to face sessions, telephone support, and an online quit program. But as COVID-19 required all staff to work from home, and all face to face consultations be replaced by telephone and video consultations, the service saw that digital health could play a big part. This thinking was also in line with NICE guidelines, as it too advises to consider digital health to help stop smoking as an adjunct to existing services.

 

Solution

Looking across the organisation, the service saw the Partnership had already adopted an ORCHA Digital Health Library in other areas of care, and so planned to embed this into its stop smoking service.  The Library provides access to digital health products that have been assessed against clinical assurance, data privacy and usability standards.  Adapting this Library for smoking cessation would allow the service to offer a new set of tools to clients. Knowing services can trust the apps featured, would help when introducing the service.

Firstly, the service worked with ORCHA to build a curated list of ‘Yorkshire Smoke Free apps’, easily accessed in the Library’s carousel. This was built within days and the service really liked that the selection can continuously be updated, so if a product launches or improves it can be added, or if an app isn’t used, it can be removed.

The service then looked to embed the carousel into relevant touch points. It’s was featured within the online Client Zone, enabling clients to search and find suitable stop smoking apps themselves.  Advisors encourage clients to view and download apps from the Client Zone or send a direct recommendation from their ORCHA Pro account.  Advisors found the carousel a quick way to go straight to the service’s preferred, relevant apps when on a call with a client.  External partners, sub-contracted to provide stop smoking services, were also given access to the library via the on-line Professionals’ Area so they can view and point clients to the carousel.

It was also identified that apps should be recommended throughout the patient pathway. For example, clients are encouraged to download ‘NHS smokefree app’ at the start of their journey. After two weeks, when a client often starts to see the physical benefits of stopping smoking, they are recommended fitness apps such as ‘couch to 5k’. If clients start to have concerns connected to quitting such as putting on weight, stress or trouble sleeping, again they are recommended relevant trusted apps.

A stop smoking advisor engages with clients on a whole range of health concerns and the ORCHA Digital Health Library enabled the service to continue to give this wide ranging support. Such tools, covering a wider range of physical and mental health concerns, were especially helpful, as at this time, due to COVID, gyms were closed, and virtually all existing referral pathways were no longer available.

Steps have also been taken to encourage peer feedback and word of mouth. Clients are asked to share which apps they have found useful with each other in video support groups; and positive feedback is shared on social media. For example, Sarah from Calderdale shared: “When I stopped smoking I put on so much weight, then my adviser told me about the NHS weight loss app. He sent me the link and it was great! Brilliant tips and so easy to follow. Thank you so much.” This encouraged others to use the library.

 

Results

Response by the public of all ages has been very positive, including the older generation. The service make no judgement on age, as they have 70 year olds who are downloading apps happily.

Since apps have been embedded in the client pathway there have been around 750 sessions, and more than 2,000 page views on the site each quarter. The most common route to finding an app is by the 154 health and care practitioners who now make recommendations to clients, with the most active having made more than 100 recommendations. Alongside this one to one route, the Trust is also seeing success profiling the Health App Library on its website, and through its active social media campaign which features peer recommendation.

YSF  believes the addition of apps has added value to the service. The service provides holistic support, signposting to services beyond smoking cessation. For example, with clients experiencing mental health issues, the service will not replace talking therapies, but can give an app to help a client whilst they wait for access to this service. Similarly, although the most common search term in the public facing site is ‘stop smoking’, this is followed by ‘mental health’, ‘sleep’ and ‘anxiety’. As such, the most commonly downloaded apps reflect the breadth of support needs, including not only NHS Smoke Free, and Quit Smoking Now, but also Sleepio, FoodSwitch and NHS Weight Loss Plan.

Bringing change to a service required working in partnership with the marketing and media group for Yorkshire Smokefree. They have worked closely with ORCHA and the service to successfully embed the service so effectively.

Commenting on the move, Chris Keoghan, said:

we see using apps as a complementary tool which is part of our service. It makes sense to our advisors, and it makes sense to our clients, that we should be recommending apps.”

Since introducing the remote service, including the telephone support, online quit program and health app library, 72% of participants remained a non-smoker after 4 weeks when using the remote services.

The service is keen to build on the successes seen. Each month the service reviews the usage report provided by ORCHA to identify which services and regions need focus. The next step will be to continue to embed the Digital Health Library into more professionals working practice. Work to promote it to our sub-contractors continues and it is hoped that they find the stop smoking carousel useful, but then also look to see how the library may help in other fields.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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How a health app became a ‘gamechanger’ in continence services

Case Study

Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Lucia Victor

Professor Nikki Cotterill and Knut Schroeder developed CONfidence, a discreet, informative health app for those experiencing continence issues.

 

Throughout her career, Professor Nikki Cotterill, an associate professor in continence care at the University of the West of England, had noticed that people experiencing continence issues could be reticent about getting help.

Embarrassment could be a factor but, often, people simply didn’t know that symptoms could be improved.  Nikki said: “There’s usually a tipping point – people find out that a continence service exists and are given lifestyle advice and exercises.  It’s common for people to say they wish they’d known about this ten years ago’.

“I was on a Florence Nightingale leadership scholarship and when I spoke to my group about this, we realised there was a gap in advancing the policy area. We thought an app was a good way forward. It wouldn’t solve all the issues but would be a useful starting point for a campaign.”

The challenge was, how to bring the app to life.

Nikki approached Knut Schroeder, founder of Expert Self Care, an organisation which co-creates health apps for universities, NHS organisations and local authorities. The two colleagues then identified a number of other key stakeholders to involve in their project:  people who have lived experience of bladder and bowel leakage, national experts and organisations specialising in bladder and bowel care.

 

Working with ORCHA

The development of high-quality content for the app was just one of the challenges faced by the team. Based on his experience of co-creating a number of other apps, Knut knew that accessibility was an issue.  He said: “The key is to have simple information – but links if people want to find out more.  It’s a bit like a TV remote control. I don’t know what 80% of the buttons do!  So, we strip out things that people never use and don’t understand.

“We do tech updates as we go along and our editorial updates are ongoing. In fact, every page has a review date on it. We are required to update certification of the overall app every two years but we voluntarily state the next review will be within 12 months.”

As he had with other Expert Self Care apps, Knut opted to have CONfidence assessed by ORCHA’s baseline review, which would measure it against 350 tough standards and assess it for clinical efficacy, data privacy plus usability. He said: “In the past, I’d had really great interactions with ORCHA and this review helped, too.  We knew where to improve, what to work on, where we could do better. All our apps have scored above the ORCHA quality threshold, which means they are distributed to healthcare professionals via app libraries. This is a great way to get them used and get the work out.

“Our app is generic for a UK audience but local areas can subscribe to optional local pages. Some areas have great information already but others are struggling and are not as coordinated.

“We have found that having an ORCHA score is really helpful for getting the trust of those organisations. Once they see the ORCHA badge they find it easier to trust the product. I hear that quite often commissioners don’t know which digital tools to recommend or use – they don’t have the time and skills to assess them. So having this independent ORCHA verification is really useful.”

It was Nikki’s first experience of working with ORCHA. She said:

“From my personal experience, given that I’m a nurse and researcher and have never done any app development, all my engagement with ORCHA has been really supportive, helpful and understanding.”

 

An award-winning app

CONfidence is now available on the ORCHA app library, with a score of 74%, reflecting its high standards. It’s a free-to-use national information hub with over 70 quality-assured articles on key topics about bladder and bowel leakage.

It enables health, care and education providers to offer the very best health and wellbeing information – instantly available in one convenient place, covering topics such as the causes of incontinence, treatments, and products which may help.  It even supports families coping with the challenges associated with young children: potty training, bed wetting and continence at school.

Knut said:

“The app is regarded as a complex public health intervention. Even though it’s not classed as a medical device, we are giving out a lot of information. We are currently working on pathway development within clinical pathways, focusing on GP, bladder and bowel and maternity services in local areas.”

Many services are using CONfidence as a first-line intervention and it’s been referred to as a ‘gamechanger’ in continence services. This year it won a Nursing Times award for continence promotion and care.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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Digital Health Accreditation in the Nordics: A cross-border initiative for integrated digital health provision

Case Study

Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Lucia Victor

Situation

With one in four Nordic citizens 65 years or older by 2040, and a growing proportion of people with one or more chronic diseases(1), digital health is seen as a vital component for a sustainable health system.

Delivering a future of a more patient-centred and sustainable healthcare service, digital health enables care that is personalised, convenient, engaging and available 24/7. Accessed by the tap of a button, digital health offers new ways for people to access support before, during and after traditional care.

This appeal has led to increased adoption of digital health(2), and there are now 5 million health apps downloaded every day across the world.

Digital health can also help health systems, particularly in assisting with distant care – giving patients contact with professionals through digital health solutions – and also having more digitally involved healthcare pathways, which would ease the burden on the traditional healthcare system.

In the Nordics, there is a need to ease the burden on the traditional healthcare sector, a need to digitalise healthcare processes for professionals, and also a need for greater focus on preventative care. Digital health provides a potential solution to each of these challenges.

 

The Nordic Health 2030 Perspective

As a result of these challenges, a vision came about across the five Nordics countries called the Nordic Health 2030 Perspective. The Nordic Council of Ministers – the cooperation between these five countries – decided in 2018 that, by 2030, they want to see the Nordics as the most sustainable and integrated health region in the world, providing the best possible personalised healthcare for its citizens.

In the middle of 2018, this ambition became the starting point for an initiative that aimed to integrate healthcare and the sharing of health data across the five Nordic countries.

On behalf of the five Nordic countries, the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies created the Nordic Health 2030 Report. In this report, it was noted that the Nordic welfare system was not sustainable because, currently, there is an approximate spend of 10% of GDP on healthcare (that is, treatment beginning when a patient becomes unwell), and only 0.3% on preventative care. As such, the report pointed towards the imbalance in the Nordic welfare system, and the need for a much greater focus on preventative care. Five aspirations were defined in the 2030 Report, one of which was to increase the focus on preventative care, while at the same time easing the burden on the traditional healthcare sector.

 

A cross-border vision

In light of this, the Nordic Interoperability Project (N!P) is working towards establishing the Nordics to be the first region in the world to establish common cross-border standards. This will enable patients to live and act in an open, seamless, cross-border healthcare ecosystem, by showcasing and implementing world class solutions and innovations from the Nordics.

Anders Tunold-Hanssen, CEO and Project Manager of the Nordic Interoperability Project (N!P) since 2018, explained that: “We knew, when working on the Nordic level, that we had to look for solutions where we could involve the citizens more and help them to easily get access to preventative care actions, in such a way that we could even out this unbalanced equation.”

Upon hearing about ORCHA’s work with the NHS in the UK, and national bodies across the world, to get safe digital health solutions into the hands of citizens, Anders, CEO and PM of N!P, realised the tremendous impact that getting health apps into the hands of citizens could have on increasing preventative care.

Speaking about ORCHA’s work, Anders noted that,

“in my mind, [ORCHA’s work] was a perfect example of how to get the citizens involved, and to gain more focus on preventative care.”

N!P then began collaborating with ORCHA to explore their cross-border vision for the five Nordic countries.

 

Approach

When N!P first started collaborating with ORCHA, they knew that the five Nordic countries had an ambition to increase focus on digital health. However, none of the five countries had started out with any quality assurance programmes or guidance, for neither the citizens, healthcare professionals, nor the digital health suppliers, in terms of how to separate good digital health solutions from not so good ones.

With the Nordic 2030 vision in mind – to be the most integrated health region in the world by 2030 – N!P saw that there was little use, in this small region of the world, in developing five separate digital health systems, instead of working towards one common solution. N!P saw a collaboration with ORCHA as a way to achieve their cross-border vision for digital health in the Nordics.

N!P also reached out to the Nordic Council of Ministers and their innovation organisation, Nordic Innovation, to get the funding to get the project up and running. The project was planned to take place over a two year period, in which N!P wanted to utilise the knowledge and the competence of ORCHA, and build upon ORCHA’s previous work in the digital health space, to meet the five Nordic countries’ requirements.

Anders explained:

“We said very clearly when we started out with this project, to the Nordic community, that we didn’t want to start from scratch – we wanted to build this on the best experience out there, and everyone was pointing towards ORCHA.”

 

Building the Nordic accreditation

The project started out with the ORCHA Baseline Review as the foundation for the Nordic digital health accreditation framework. N!P then invited a wide stakeholder group from all over the Nordics to look into the components of the ORCHA Baseline Review and give their input into changes, alterations and additions, which created what is now a starting point for a Nordic baseline review. A lot of the Nordic accreditation is similar to what is being evaluated in the UK, but more specific components are included to meet needs in the Nordics.

N!P is now at the stage in the project where they have a Nordic baseline review as a draft, so their next step will be discussing and agreeing this review with each of the five countries. The Nordic baseline review is open for country-specific requirements if needed, but N!P has also advised that, whenever there is a national initiative, the aim should be to see if this can also be a wider Nordic requirement. This works towards the aim of having, as much as possible, a common solution across the five countries, with as little as possible being national-specific.

The different segments of the healthcare sector are interested in different review components, and all of these are important, but, being the Nordic Interoperability Project, N!P has a special interest in interoperability: how to make sure that the data collected in digital health solutions in the future can be available across the healthcare system.

Currently, in the Nordics, there is the same challenge as that faced by many other countries – data is being stored in doctors’ offices or in hospitals, but it is hard to share this data as it is built on different standards and stored in different places. Thus, systems’ inability to talk to each other poses a huge problem. One way of resolving this challenge is to establish interoperable solutions and standards to try to get data out of one system and connect it to the data in another system.

From day one of the project, N!P set out to try to make sure that the data stored in any of the digital health solutions approved for the Nordics was following some common standards on interoperability in such a way that, further down the line, the data collected in these different digital health solutions could also be utilised. For that reason, interoperability, the sharing of data, and the storage of data, based on international interoperability standards, is extremely important. If digital health suppliers want to have a solution approved for the Nordics, N!P aims to ensure that they are following some form of international interoperability standards.

 

Quality assured, sustainable digital health solutions

Since the five Nordic countries are, individually, quite small, N!P found that having common accreditation requirements also creates huge potential to motivate digital health suppliers to develop solutions that could be approved for five countries at one time, instead of going through five different accreditations on defining quality. The digital health accreditation has to be easy enough for digital health suppliers to want to go through it, whilst also upholding quality standards. N!P is working with ORCHA to bring this quality assurance process into a centralised place across the Nordic countries.

Digital health suppliers need a cross-border accreditation, as, currently, it is quite easy to develop and launch digital health solutions, but very difficult to get traction and to get across the tipping point where it is a business sustainable solution.

For instance, within healthcare, professionals could find a digital health solution that meets their needs, but it is not business viable for only one hospital to use the solution. For that hospital to be able to have quality solutions, it also has to be easier for the digital health suppliers to get a bigger marketplace, so that their digital health solution is sustainable.

N!P believes that, with cooperation between the five countries, having as many requirements as possible as common requirements, will make it easier for digital health suppliers and will motivate them to go through the quality assurance process. Resultantly, suppliers will see that they have a bigger marketplace where they could potentially build a sustainable business.

The Nordic baseline review will be closely connected to the ORCHA Baseline Review and other international baseline reviews, in order to make it even easier for the internationalisation and globalisation of digital health solutions. The Nordic solution is to adjust the review to national demands, whilst simultaneously keeping it as close to international reviews and frameworks as possible.

N!P is planning to do pilots of the Nordic accreditation framework during Autumn 2021, to test the system and also to invite digital health suppliers to give their input on the process.

 

Nordic digital health library

The idea is that N!P will also have a digital health library alongside the accreditation – a Nordic ‘warehouse’ of digital health solutions. After working with ORCHA to create a centralised model for approving solutions, the Nordic digital health library will make it easy for Nordic healthcare authorities to access the quality assured solutions. Wherever a solution in the Nordics, or a solution outside the Nordics wanting to enter the Nordic market, has gone through the review process and has been stamped as a quality assured solution, those solutions can be made available in the Nordic library for national platforms to access them.

As the project is a cross-national border initiative, rather than a national one, N!P wants the library to be a place for national platforms to find quality assured solutions for the Nordics, so that all five national authorities can be in control of which solutions are being offered to their professionals and citizens – N!P’s digital health library will give them the means of having a source to find such solutions. The idea is that professionals will then be able to recommend digital health solutions to their patients, either via the Nordic library, or a national sublibrary.

 

The cross-national Nordic solution

N!P will now, in continuous dialogue with the national authorities, start promoting the potential of digital health to citizens and professional healthcare workers in the Nordics. This Autumn, N!P will run webinar, seminars and information packages on the potential of digital health solutions, open to anyone in the Nordics, so that anyone who wants to be more informed and to start looking into the potential of digital health, will have the opportunity to do so.

Anders explained the decision behind working with ORCHA on the N!P initiative for a Nordic digital health accreditation and library:

“The whole story behind ORCHA, and also the work that ORCHA has been doing for several years in the UK and other countries, fits very well with the thoughts we had in the Nordics, so it was a really good fit. And the more I talked to different people and different health authorities, not only in the Nordics but also outside the Nordics, everyone who had started looking into quality assurance of digital health solutions, all of them pointed towards NHS and ORCHA.

“So, for that reason, the confidence in ORCHA just grew by being looked at as the go-to place for a lot of different authorities. Whenever I talked about evaluation of digital health, someone in the meeting room or presentation said they had been looking at ORCHA and that they had been doing a lot of good work.

“From that perspective, we found that ORCHA seemed to be the leading organisation for quality assurance of digital health, and since we have quite an ambitious goal [with our 2030 vision for the Nordic countries], we saw it as better to then join forces with ORCHA and build upon the knowledge and the solutions that they already had, instead of trying to start doing something similar from scratch in the Nordics.”

In many respects, N!P’s project is very similar to what ORCHA is doing with the other national initiatives they’re working on, with the difference being N!P is trying to achieve a common digital health accreditation across five countries. These five countries have a history of cooperation and they have a Council of Ministers that work together, as well as a Nordic welfare model, meaning that the system and setup within each country is quite similar.

While some countries are big enough to build business models behind their own country, in the Nordics, as with rather small countries, specialised solutions need a bigger marketplace that one country alone can provide. The cross-national solution in the Nordics hopes to give digital health suppliers significant enough business grounds for them to build sustainable solutions that, as a result, have longevity in providing integrated, quality assured digital health solutions for professionals and citizens across the Nordics.

 

(1) https://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1297054/FULLTEXT01.pdf

(2) https://www.statista.com/statistics/1092869/global-digital-health-market-size-forecast/

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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