ORCHA chief executive gives thoughts on problems facing medical apps


There are four big problems facing medical apps in today’s market, the chief executive of ORCHA has said.

Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine event on medical apps on 4 April, Liz Ashall-Payne said awareness, accessibility, trust and governance were the challenges currently facing healthcare apps.

“The ultimate challenge is trust, and it’s not unfounded. There are bad apps out there on the market, there are dangerous apps available,” she told an audience in London.

“Apps change all the time, so how do we manage and govern risk in this ever changing landscape?”

Addressing governance and trust issues has already begun, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) publishing an updated version of its evidence standards framework for digital health technologies in March.

Tim Andrews, chief operating officer at ORCHA, said the guidelines were a “huge step forward” but more needed to be done to evaluate the risk of medical apps.

“One of the things we’ve started to do when we review apps is look at what we think is likely to be the key requirements as the interoperability maze starts to unravel,” he told the crowd at the RSM event.

“That includes user authentication methodologies – how do we know that the individual using the app is the individual who’s clinical record you might want to access?

“User experience is probably one of the main things that’s lagging behind in all of the areas we look at.

“We are currently doing a huge amount of research on how to get a much more robust set of user experience metrics from a combination of different data sources.”

Since it was established, ORCHA has evaluated more than 5,000 apps on the market. In September 2018, the company was enlisted by NHS Digital to help verify applications for its apps library. 

On top of re-reviewing about 200 apps a month, as they are updated, they evaluate around 400 new apps monthly, Andrews said.

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