Sixty seconds on . . . CBT apps

BMJ, 7 September 2016

If you search online for “apps for depression” you’ll get more than a million hits. “People are starting to assume you can get therapy on a smartphone and we won’t need CBT to be provided by health services anymore,” explained Rona Moss-Morris, King’s College London professor of psychology as applied to medicine, at a media update on cognitive behavioural therapy this week. But most people, when asked, choose therapy from a person rather than an app, she said.

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Ensuring safe medical apps

BMC Medicine 2015, 13:205

Authors: Paul Wicks and Emil Chiauzzi

Mobile health apps are health and wellness programs available on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. In three systematic assessments published in BMC Medicine, Huckvale and colleagues demonstrate that widely available health apps meant to help patients calculate their appropriate insulin dosage, educate themselves about asthma, or perform other important functions are methodologically weak. Insulin dose calculators lacked user input validation and made inappropriate dose recommendations, with a lack of documentation throughout. Since 2011, asthma apps have become more interactive, but have not improved in quality; peak flow calculators have the same issues as the insulin calculators. A review of the accredited National Health Service Health Apps Library found poor and inconsistent implementation of privacy and security, with 28 % of apps lacking a privacy policy and one even transmitting personally identifying data the policy claimed would be anonymous. Ensuring patient safety might require a new approach, whether that be a consumer education program at one extreme or government regulation at the other. App store owners could ensure transparency of algorithms (whiteboxing), data sharing, and data quality. While a proper balance must be struck between innovation and caution, patient safety must be paramount.

Click here to read the full paper.

Insights on earlier adoption of medical innovations

Department of Health, July 2015

The aim of this study was to identify and gain insight into international examples of best practice where the use of new drugs, devices and diagnostics were already being accelerated.  The study explored systems across the world through which drugs, devices and diagnostics pass rapidly, identifying what works both in theory and in practice.

Click here to download the report.

Personalised health and care 2020

Department of Health, 13 November 2014

This policy paper from the Department of Health is not a strategy in the conventional sense. It is not a national plan, but a framework for action that will support frontline staff, patients and citizens to take better advantage of the digital opportunity.

Better use of data and technology has the power to improve health, transform the quality and reduce the cost of health and care services.

It can:

  • give patients and citizens more control over their health and wellbeing
  • empower carers
  • reduce the administrative burden for care professionals
  • support the development of new medicines and treatments

This framework has been developed based on evidence from many sources, including civil society and patient organisations, as well as directly from service users.

The National Information Board will report annually on progress made against the priorities detailed in this framework and review them each year to reflect changing technology and accommodate new requirements from the public and staff. The proposals in this framework are not comprehensive but they represent the core and immediate priorities for delivery of modern digital health and care services.

Click here for further information and to download the paper.