The NHS Health Apps Library, which launched as a pilot in 2013, is set to close at the end of this week and will now be taken in a new direction.
The news follows the recent revelation that a large number of the NHS-approved apps were found to leak data.
The Health Apps Library reviews and recommends apps on the premise that they are “clinically safe, relevant to people living in England and compliant with the Data protection act”. According to NHS England, it does not formally ‘accredit’ apps.
A spokesperson for NHS England has commented on the Health Apps Library’s imminent upgrade and revealed that a series of ‘app stores’ will now be launched, inspired by the Mental Health Apps Library.
The public body will now be working with clinical leads to decide on appropriate assessment criteria for the new stores in a range of areas.
“We are working to upgrade the Health Apps Library, which was launched as a pilot site in 2013 and reviews and recommends apps against a defined set of criteria,” they said.
“Building on the success of the Mental Health Apps Library, which assesses apps and digital tools against further clinical standards, we will launch a series of ‘apps stores’ to promote clinically validated apps in a range of other areas including diabetes, obesity prevention, maternity and early years, smoking cessation and COPD.”
According to NHS England, a recent review of diabetes self-management showed that “technological interventions had positive impacts on diabetes outcomes”.
As well as the new app stores (that will be launching on NHS Choices), it has also been confirmed that the “learning from the Health Apps Library has been taken forward by the National Information Board to create a more thorough assessment model for apps which begun piloting this month”.
Leaked data findings
As covered by Digital by Default last month, a recent Imperial College study showed that a number of mobile applications within the Health Apps Library’s library have been found to leak data about users.
The study, which examined the adequacy of data protections of software listed in the NHS Health Apps Library, was carried out over a period of six months.
During this time, 79 apps certified as “clinically safe” and “trustworthy” by the UK NHS Health Apps Library were assessed. Of those 79 applications, 89 per cent transmitted information to online services.