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NHS to approve health care apps for GPs to prescribe

GPs could be prescribing NHS-approved health apps to patients under plans being developed with NICE, NHS England’s national director of patients and information has revealed.

Tim Kelsey told delegates at the EHI Live conference in Birmingham that developers will be able to get their health apps branded with the NHS logo through a ‘kite mark’ assurance process.

He also admitted that NHS England made ‘mistakes’ in the roll out of, and said that there will be more information around the timetable for the scheme released next week.

Mr Kelsey added that there will be an ‘audit trail’ for for patients to see who had accessed their information.

There is no indication around the type of app that could be prescribed as yet, but there have been discussions around patients being able to monitor their blood pressure through their mobile phones.

Speaking at the EHI Live conference in Birmingham, Mr Kelsey told delegates: ‘We’re going to introduce a kite marking scheme, which we think will really help [app] developers to take advantage of the trust people have in the NHS brand in return, voluntarily, for them submitting to a degree of assurance.’

He said it would not be an ‘an endlessly bureaucratic process’, but instead would be ‘something that will give confidence that an app says what it does’, and in return they ‘will be able to carry the NHS brand, and will in some circumstances be able to be prescribed by GPs’.

Responding to a question from the floor, he added ‘we haven’t got an answer’ to what apps will be accredited.

He added: ‘There are lots of other people who have an interest in it, and we’ll talk to a really wide group of people about how we make this meaningful but not grossly intrusive, and therefore impossible for a small business to be able to participate in.’

Mr Kelsey also conceded that the NHS England had made ‘mistakes’ in its initial roll-out of the GP record sharing programme,, which saw it delayed days before launch.

The scheme has now relaunched in 250 pilot practices to conduct a full audit of the data quality  and security measures, and Mr Kelsey hinted that further precautions were on the cards with the introduction of a full audit trail – similar to that run by credit card companies – for patients to see who has had access to their information.

This would run alongside an expansion of patient record access plans to include all information held by the NHS. The 2015/16 contract announced last month requires GPs to give access to all coded information by April 2016.

He explained that restoring patient trust in data sharing will be one of the key ambitions for NHS IT, to be explored in the Personalising health and care 2020 report.

Mr Kelsey told delegates: ‘In a way you can regard what happened with earlier this year as a sort of failure. But I don’t see it that way at all. I see this as about, us learning from our mistakes.’

He added: ‘One of the kind of proposals we’re making is that we do provide people, citizens, with a means of accessing data about people who are accessing their data. So if you think about the way in which credit card companies operate, and some online banks, you’re already able to go online and get a real time audit of who has had access to your data.

‘Another thing is to take, much further forward , the start we’ve made by giving people access to their GP record. So we’re going to be announcing a date, and some plans by which time people will have access to all the data that is held on them in health and care.’