NHS App Store's sick apps need care plan

Healthcare in the UK is about to undergo a technology-driven revolution after the National Health Service [NHS] revealed a plan to give patients access to a wealth of data at any time though it has been warned its App Store needs stringent controls.

The plans will see patients gain unprecedented access to health records in what is being called a “global first” by the NHS and health secretary Jeremy Hunt explained the “world class showcase” of personalised care has the potential to save the NHS £10 billion.

“We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want – to take more control when are ill,” said Tim Kelsey, national informatics director at NHS England. “Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens”

Under the newly unveiled plan, parents will be given access to their children’s health record, or “red book” and adult patients will be allowed to add comments to doctors’ notes at any time. This could include terminally ill patients altering notes about where they want to die in order that NHS staff everywhere know what the plan is.

The first stage in the rollout is currently taking place with GP records being taken online and it’s planned for patients to have full access to them by 2018. Then, by 2020 the NHS hopes to have electronically held care records available for all services.

It also plans to create an “NHS App Store” next year where kite-marked apps can be downloaded and help patients to manage their health and well-being by accessing certain services.

Launching an app store can be a tough task and Tom Levey, senior technology evangelist at AppDynamics, for one, thinks that although the benefits of apps are plain to see, the NHS must have a system in place to check the health of its apps at any time.

“Just as a doctor tries to diagnose a condition before it progresses to a more serious illness, app administrators need the tools and technologies to monitor the performance of apps in real-time, and to diagnose and cure potential problems before they become apparent to end users,” Levey said. “Application intelligence enables health organisations to not only identify availability and performance problems – right down to the code level, but also to analyse applications data to spot and prevent glitches before they even occur.”