The utilisation of Digital Health has increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic due to patients being limited in being able to physically attend appointments with a health care professional.
Within digital healthcare, there is an appetite to continue with alternative access routes with an understanding that virtual appointments are not always the best option for all patients.
Throughout the uncertainty of the last two years, Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership have had the opportunity to be able to direct our local population to our own self-care apps store, which is a free to use resource of healthcare applications.
In some cases, use of apps can provide additional support to those who may not have been able to see a health professional face to face or who may have faced cancelled or delayed appointments due to the pandemic.
Now, as we emerge from the pandemic and healthcare begins to return to business as usual, we are facing a huge backlog of patients, who are on waiting lists to see a health care professional, particularly within our local acute trusts.
As a result of this, we are looking at how we can implement use of the self-care apps store, into the elective care and outpatient recovery programme of work, so that use of an application, may be able to provide support during the time that an individual is are waiting for an appointment.
The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership Digital Team are currently leading a programme of work in collaboration with Hull University Teaching Hospitals and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust, to enable clinicians and other healthcare professionals, to consider whether there are any apps available, that could provide additional support and reassurance to patients, to be able to aid them whilst they are waiting for an appointment or to assist with their recovery going forward.
Sometimes people are reluctant to use apps for the management of health and wellbeing as they are unsure of the validity of those that are available for download. The Organisation for the Review of Healthcare Applications (ORCHA) reviews each app via a set of criteria before they are published onto the app store, to provide assurance that any apps that are included, are both accurate and safe to use.
Through extensive research, ORCHA have found that only 20% of health apps are safe and effective to use. The ORCHA review process ensures that a number of key criteria are reviewed to provide assurance around clinical/ professional assurance, data privacy and usability & accessibility.
The apps available cover a wide range of areas such as management of long-term conditions, support with mental health and wellbeing and a focus on goal orientated interests such as support with giving up smoking, healthy eating and fitness.
The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership Digital Team have links with a wide range of social prescribing, care co-ordinator and health and wellbeing teams and have been able to offer use of the self-care apps store within these teams, across the locality.
This allows those who have been referred into any of the services listed above, to be able to be recommended an app that may be able to support their progress.
ORCHA are able to provide, pro licences for health care professionals to use free of charge, which allow an application to be recommended directly to a patient’s smartphone. This then allows a record of when an app was recommended, should a follow-up be required.
Professionals can also access CPD Accredited content relating to digital health from this Pro Account or separately via the ORCHA Academy. This is a great way of familiarising yourself with digital health, how it’s developing and what to look out for.
As a team we are always happy to come along to any stakeholder network meetings or forums and showcase what ORCHA is able to offer and to demonstrate how it can be best utilised within care pathways.
To find out more and to access the online ORCHA app store visit hny.orcha.co.uk