ORCHA celebrated as one of UK’s top 50 HealthTech companies


ORCHA celebrated as one of UK’s top 50 HealthTech companies

ORCHA team stood together outside
Featured image:ORCHA team stood together outside

ORCHA has been placed at number seven on a list of the top 50 HealthTech companies in the UK.

The ranking was compiled by technology magazine Business Cloud. It follows a succession of other award wins for ORCHA and its founder Liz Ashall-Payne, in just the last few months.

Commenting on her company’s inclusion in the ranking, Liz said: “Founding a health-tech start up has been an incredible challenge and has taken immense resilience. To be where we are today, with a committed team of creative, motivated colleagues, is fantastic. Massive thanks to all those voted for us to be in this prestigious ranking.”

Other award successes for ORCHA so far in 2022 are:

  • Women in IT Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Northern Power Woman, Outstanding Entrepreneur
  • EY Entrepreneur of the Year – regional finalist
  • Digital Leaders 100 – Digital Leader of the Year, runner up

ORCHA’s digital health libraries are now used by doctors across extensive parts of the NHS and in 12 other countries. Health apps are routinely being recommended to help patients stop smoking, manage long term conditions, maintain a healthy weight, monitor their blood pressure, and much more.

Liz added: “The more we all turn to digital health tools, the more ORCHA will be needed. There’s an ongoing issue with quality. Only 20% of all the health apps we review – and we’ve done 20,000 reviews to date – meet the standards necessary for us to recommend them to the NHS.”

ORCHA’s rapid expansion means it is constantly recruiting. For details of the latest positions visit https://orchahealth.com/about-us/recruitment/.

Read more about the HealthTech 50 here: https://businesscloud.co.uk/healthtech-50-uks-most-innovative-health-technology-creators-for-2022

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A Level and GCSE results are due – here are five apps to help teens cope


A Level and GCSE results are due – here are five apps to help teens cope

Group of mixed age and ethnicity teenage friends on a walk in Beadnell, North East England. They are standing in a field looking at each others phones, talking together.
Featured image: Group of mixed age and ethnicity teenage friends on a walk in Beadnell, North East England. They are standing in a field looking at each others phones, talking together.


ORCHA has selected five mental health apps which could help anxious teenagers as they wait for their A Level and GCSE results (due on 18 August and 25 August).

The apps are:

  1. Tellmi
  2. Wysa
  3. Woebot
  4. Smiling Mind
  5. Feeling Good.


They allow young people to communicate with their peers anonymously, learn techniques to cope with anxiety and increase their resilience – and all in a safe environment.

Clinical psychologist Dr Humphreys, managing director of ORCHA, commented that Generation Z have grown up with tech and it’s like a natural language for them.

Dr Humphreys added:

“Teens who socialise online will find it entirely normal to also seek support in a virtual environment. In this ever present, always on world, you can use a health app and engage as much as you feel able, and at any time you like. There is good evidence of their effectiveness – and combining technology with others forms of support can provide a well-rounded way of meeting teenagers within their comfort zones, breaking down many barriers.”

Matt Pearson, 18, who studied at Derby College and is waiting for his A Level results next week, said:

“Oftentimes, talking to your parents about exam results seems circular. Because you’re trying to relieve stress by talking directly to a major component of the stress. What I would say, and what many others my age would as well, is that looking online can give you a better solution. Whether that is talking to your friends over social media, strangers on random forums or talking to a chatbot or playing a game.

“Talking to your parents is high consequence. Whereas talking to a random person is low consequence. They aren’t going to judge you and it won’t impact anything. It is just a method of expressing your emotions. Health apps allow you to do that in a safe manner.”

Independent research commissioned by ORCHA* found that:

  • 86% of 18-year-olds who had used a health app, felt the app had helped with their health.
  • 55% would use a mental health app recommended by their doctor.
  • The top reasons for teens chose to use health apps were convenience, immediacy and privacy.

ORCHA recommends that families select health apps carefully, as 80% still fail to pass its quality assurance process – many have insufficient clinical backing or are lax on data privacy. Apps which are NHS accredited or which appear on an ORCHA app library have been rigorously vetted and are safe to use.



Tellmi was selected for this ORCHA list by a group of teen boys, who felt their peers would benefit from it.  It allows users to share their struggles and receive advice from other users. The app has a social media-like layout which teenagers will be very familiar with, making it more appealing and engaging. Tellmi has an age band feature that connects app users to others of a similar age.

Platforms: Apple iOS, Google, Android

Cost: Free

ORCHA score: 81%


Wysa was also selected by ORCHA’s teen panel. It’s an AI chatbot which allows users to express their feelings confidently and anonymously. Using short CBT activities, it helps users to cultivate confidence, reduce anxiety and improve general wellbeing.

Platforms:  Apple iOS and Android

Cost: The app is free to download and use on a limited basis. There are then in-app purchases.

ORCHA score: 85%


Woebot can help you think through situations step by step, using proven therapeutic methods. It’s used by millions of people every week to cope with anxiety, depression, loneliness and much more. It checks in with you, helping with insights and skills development.

Platforms: Apple iOS and Android

Cost: The app is entirely free.

ORCHA score: 84%


This free mindfulness meditation app has programmes for youths (13-18) and adults (19+). It’s designed to look after your mind, helping with the pressure, stress and challenges. Learn how to relax and cope – and sleep better.

Platforms: Apple iOS and Android

Cost: The app is entirely free

ORCHA score: 77%


Feeling Good is accredited by NHS digital. It provides mental health focussed audio tracks to help you build essential skills, bounce forward and become more resilient: a great option for teens who love podcasts. There are programmes for both teens and adults.

Platforms: Apple iOS and Android

Cost:  There are several free tracks, then the whole app can be unlocked with a referral code or one-time payment.

ORCHA  score: 90%


*OnePoll survey of 2000 consumers, May 2022

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How LMA supports students with digital health


How LMA supports students with digital health

Lucia Victor

LMA logo


LMA is a media, performing arts and music specialist institution. The Academy takes a student-first approach, encouraging collaboration and support as key elements of the student experience.

LMA launched its partnership with ORCHA in 2019, keen to help students and staff take control of their physical and mental wellbeing. The LMA Health App Library provides instant access to digital support tools which can be used as and when suits the individual, which is very helpful to students with busy schedules.

Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and LMA was forced to suspend in-person studies. The highly practical nature of performing arts studies meant that continuing with studies was challenging, and, although LMA switched to remote learning and student services, for many students it was difficult to maintain the level of learning which took place prior. 



The Student Services team at LMA have found the apps included in the Library useful not only to students with preexisting mental and physical health diagnoses, but also to students who have developed anxieties during the isolation periods of the last two years. 

The Student Services team used the Library and resources from ORCHA throughout lockdown to consistently communicate with students about the safe digital health solutions available to them. The team continues to offer these resources to students, based on which time periods and touchpoints the students are likely to require support for.

Hannah, from the Student Services team at LMA, has found that mental health apps in particular are incredibly helpful resources as the NHS struggles to keep up with the growing mental health challenges and the waiting lists for traditional services continue to grow.

“Waiting lists for NHS counselling and other services were 26 weeks before lockdown, now you’re talking over a year and so, obviously, having these apps to hand to be able to recommend to our students to fill that gap really helps – some students didn’t need to access the support that their doctors were referring them to because they’re tapped into these apps and they implement these exercises daily and use the strategies to help them through difficult times.”


Response to the Library by students and professionals has been very positive. To date, there have been over 2,500 sessions and over 5,000 page views. The most common route to accessing the site is directly, as LMA is very proactive in promoting the Library, particularly during the first “freshers” weeks and exam season. There are also many students accessing the Library via links on the LMA website and via emails sent to them.  

In the main, the apps recommended by Pros at LMA are mental health and anxiety support apps. The team have also found healthy living and nutrition apps useful for boosting their students’ overall health. A recent development has been the growing use of apps for diabetic students to access safe information and guidance. LMA has also found a lot of use for apps for eating disorder management and prevention, as, due to the nature of performing arts careers and institutes, some students may be at a higher risk of issues surrounding body image.

The Student Services team, in working with such a diverse group of students, find that by having the additional resource available to them via the ORCHA Library, they can support both the students who are more forthcoming when they are struggling, and those who are not. Through the recommendation functionality included in the ORCHA Pro account, the team can send accredited health apps safely and directly to students, but by also presenting it as a self-help option which students can access at any time, the team can support students without their having to request help.

Since introducing the ORCHA Library, the Student Services team have noticed a decline in students needing face-to-face appointments. 

“All students are different and not one size fits all. So some students like to come and talk about their feelings face-to-face, but some students bottle it all up and they like to deal with it themselves. Now, the Library is a service they can tap into absolutely anywhere across the world; we know that we’re covering all bases and that’s reassuring to us. Our students are covered and if they do want that support but don’t want to speak to us, it’s just there, on their phones – basically everyone has a phone in their hands all the time, so they can just have the support they need and we know that everyone’s covered.”

Quote from Hannah

Caitlin, a recent graduate of LMA, found the apps particularly useful, both during lockdown and following it. As a musical theatre student, Caitlin was both doing a very intensive course with a lot of in-person hours and also working a full-time job outside of her studies. Describing herself as someone who struggles with anxiety, and “jumps to conclusions” or “gets in her own head about things when it’s not as bad as it seems”, she found an anxiety management app very helpful for remembering to take time out for herself and complete regular breathing exercises. She found the app particularly helpful during the lockdown periods for privately expressing her feelings, whilst being able to bear in mind that many other people used the app and struggled with similar circumstances.

Although Caitlin felt very much able to rely on the Student Service team’s support, the addition of the apps “changed the whole experience”. Caitlin, in coming towards the end of her studies and straight into a career as lead vocalist for a production company, reflected on times in her studies when she lost motivation, or struggled to manage her stress. 

“I felt like I had been out of it for a while. I’d kind of lost a lot of motivation to get back into my studies. And then obviously, I was going back to work and I felt really overwhelmed when I started not being able to attend classes. I was just stressing myself out with everything. So having all this support helped me get back on track and things because I knew it was important and I really wanted to get my degree but also loved my work so I just had to find a healthy balance between the two, but without support from everyone I probably wouldn’t have got back on track the way I am now.”


Quote from Caitlin

Caitlin found that the combined approach worked very well for her, as although she requested support through the Student Services team, it was sometimes a little embarrassing or anxiety-inducing to go through official channels, and so it was beneficial to have access to other support when she didn’t want to feel as though she was bothering anyone. 

  The Student Services team have found that: 

“Students are more forthcoming using apps, rather than looking at a web page or downloading and reading through an application form – it’s very current and it helps that we can recommend it to students.”

Caitlin reiterated this, stating that 

“Technology makes life so much easier. As for me, I’ve got no patience to sit and read through things without having it so it’s quick and easy to access and just encourages you to use it more.”

When asked what she would say to other students looking to access digital mental or physical health support, Caitlin said 

“I would definitely say get yourself on these apps because they really help. I would just say tap into them because they’re really useful and you don’t realise – I think it was the same with me, I felt this probably won’t help with anything. And then you download it and then you find yourself using it because simple things just change everything.”

Quote from Caitlin

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Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Case Study

Digital health supports social prescribers in Humber and North Yorkshire

Lucia Victor


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.


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. 


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.


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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Your Health and Care App Library

Search ORCHA’s App Library, featuring thousands of independent app reviews across a broad spectrum of health conditions. Every app is evaluated against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, making it easy for you to find the best apps for your needs.

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