The UK’s first Digital Health Formulary and a Health App Library just for citizens

ORCHA colleague demonstrating ORCHA platforms at REWIRED conference.

ORCHA (the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps) has been helping healthcare professionals and the public find trusted health apps since 2015, through its digital health libraries.

Following the rapid growth of the digital health sector, healthcare professionals and citizens now have distinct and different needs from their health app libraries – and so ORCHA has created products exactly tailored for each of these two audiences.

  • ORCHA Digital Health Formularies will ensure professionals can prescribe more complex apps safely and monitor their use by patients.
  • ORCHA Health App Libraries will contain only over-the-counter health apps, safe for citizens to download and use without medical oversight.

The UK’s first Digital Health Formulary

Nearly 75 years after the publication of the first British National Formulary (BNF), the essential prescribing tool depended upon by all healthcare professionals, the UK’s first Digital Health Formulary sets up a system for prescribing safe health apps to patients.

GP Tom Micklewright, ORCHA’s medical director, said:

“The original BNF was introduced because in the first half of the 20th century doctors were faced with an increasingly complex range of drugs and influential pharmaceutical industry. They realised they needed high-quality and independent advice. We are in the same situation again now, as pressures on our healthcare systems make us look at revolutionary new ways of doing things.”

The new formulary can be integrated into existing patient record systems, such as CERNER or EPIC dashboards. It’s a single source from which to find health apps which have been pre-selected and vetted by healthcare colleagues.

Within three clicks, healthcare professionals can send a health app recommendation to a patient via a secure text or email. Recommendations and patient downloads can be tracked, ensuring good governance. The healthcare provider can also take an overview, monitoring how many apps it is prescribing and which are being downloaded and used by patients.

A safe health app library for citizens

Consumer research* has indicated that 62% of people are interested in using apps and many are finding them themselves rather than through a healthcare professional (55% had received their recommendation from a healthcare professional). This raises serious concerns about quality, as only 20% of the 320,000 health apps currently available are safe to use.**

From now, ORCHA will be developing straightforward, easy-to-use Health App Libraries in partnership with healthcare providers, which allow patients to easily find apps they can use unaided. Only consumer-friendly, over-the-counter apps which require no input from a healthcare professionals will be included on these libraries.

The App Libraries are structured on simple, pre-built layouts. They can be presented in several languages and configurations and designed to support health strategies and key health priorities of each health care provider. The Libraries can only be accessed within the geographical territory of the healthcare providers, ensuring that all the regulations for that territory area met safely and that data governance and residency requirements are met.

The reporting dashboard will enable the provider to have new population insights.

Tom Micklewright said:

“We want to get safe digital health to those who need it as safely and quickly as possible, so we’ve designed the Libraries with usability and accessibility as an absolute priority. We’re proud that our Libraries are rated AA for web content accessibility. They’re modern, responsive, and mobile first.”

These two new products are part of an expansive range of ORCHA products designed to give health and care providers everything they need to deliver digital health safely.

See a video about the new ORCHA products here.



**ORCHA statistics