may 8 :: vol 27 no 36 :: 2013
A library of NHS-approved mobile phone appshas been launched in response to concernsabout the variable quality of health apps. Thisarticle describes the latest apps to be includedin the library and reveals how nurse SarahAmani helped to develop an app for mentalhealth service users.
Jennifer Trueland is a freelance journalist
S U M M A R Y
Nurses can now recommend health appsto patients or, like Sarah Amani, createtheir own. Jennier Trueland reports
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Mental health nurse SarahAmani could not help but noticehow attached her young clientswere to their mobile phones.
‘You would see them sittingin the waiting room texting andlooking things up, but when theycame through to see us they hadto put their phones away. It waslike they had to switch o a parto themselves.’Ms Amani, who is nowteam manager or the earlyintervention in psychosis teamat North East Hampshire andSurrey Heath and youth mentalhealth network lead or NHSSouth o England (East),thought that the importanceo mobiles to young peopleshould be harnessed.
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Soon, she was discussing withcolleagues an idea or a mobilephone app (application sotware)that would help service usersthrough their treatment.That was in 2011, and theMy Journey app is fnallyavailable to download romthe Google Play store ordevices using the Androidoperating system.Conceived by Ms Amaniand her then colleagues atSurrey and Borders PartnershipNHS Foundation Trust, withinvaluable input rom serviceusers, the app allows peopleto track their mood, set goalsand monitor their progress.It also enables them to accessinormation about services andget advice on who to contact i they need help. In addition, it hasa medication tracker and oerstips on useul topics, such asexercise and diet.‘It does not replace nursesor other clinicians,’ explainsMs Amani. ‘But it is like havinga coach in your pocket – itcomplements what we do.’Smartphone owners alreadyuse apps every day or emailing,networking, banking andplaying games while on themove.
The use o apps topromote health, however,is on the increase – and thechoice is vast. App developers,sometimes in conjunction withclinicians, have been coming upwith all kinds o health-relatedapps, rom weight and exercisetrackers to heart rate monitors.According to Trendwatching.com, a company that tracksconsumer trends, 2013 will bethe year when people turn to themedical proession to ‘curate’the thousands o health appsnow appearing in app stores andapprove or ‘certiy’ those thatare benefcial.In March, the NHSCommissioning Board (nowNHS England) launched theNHS Health Apps Library, acollection o apps that have beenreviewed by the NHS to ensurethey are clinically sae. So ar,around 70 apps have receivedNHS endorsement, and more –including My Journey – arebeing assessed.
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