https://digitalhealth.blog.gov.uk/2013/09/12/my-kafkaesque-apps-nightmare/

My Kafkaesque apps nightmare

Over the last few months we’ve been inundated with freedom of information (FOI) requests and enquiries about native mobile applications and medical devices. To head-off some of this correspondence I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but like some Kafkaesque nightmare, every time I start to write the post yet another request for information about apps arrives.

Well I’ve finally cleared the decks, or by chance hit a brief window of respite - I’m not sure which yet. So, here’s a brief blog post listing all apps created or funded by the Department of Health (DH), who owns or has responsibility for them now and who to contact if you would like more information (costs, statistics etc) about them. There’s also a bit of clarification on medical devices.

When the new health and care system launched on 1st April 2013, parts of DH moved into new or existing organisations in the system, taking their responsibilities and assets with them. The Department’s existing native mobile applications were included in the assets that transferred.

Apps developed before 1st April 2013

Below is a list of apps that were developed by DH prior to 1st April 2013 but are now the responsibility of other organisations in the health and care system:

Public Health England (PHE) – contact: FOI@phe.gov.uk

  • Change4Life Fun generator
  • Change4Life Drinks tracker
  • Change4Life Be Food Smart Meal mixer
  • Stoptober

Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) – contact: enquiries@hscic.gov.uk

  • NHS BMI healthy weight calculator
  • NHS Drinks Tracker
  • NHS Couch to 5k
  • NHS Quit Smoking
  • Embedding Informatics in Clinical Education

Before April 2013, DH also contributed to the funding of two apps:

  1. Big White Wall app – Still in development, this app will provide an early intervention peer support, wellbeing and counselling service to the Armed Forces, their families and veterans.
  2. UK Clinical Trials Gateway app – Owned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), this app provides a searchable portfolio of clinical trials running in the UK.

Apps showcase

DH also supported NHS England in the development of the NHS Health Apps Library which launched in March 2013. Information requests relating to NHS apps or the NHS Health Apps Library should be referred to NHS England - england.contactus@nhs.net.

DH has not developed any new native mobile applications since 1st April 2013 and we’re committed to the Government Digital Strategy and its position on the creation of new mobile apps, which favours responsive design over the creation of native apps in most cases. See the Government Service Design Manual for more detailed information.

Apps as medical devices

We’ve also had a number of enquiries about the status of our apps, whether they are medical devices and whether they adhere to the European standards that govern medical devices, such as IEC 62304. I can confirm that none of DH’s apps, past or present, is considered to be a ‘medical device’ under the European Commission’s guidelines - see MEDDEV 2.4/1 rev.9 Classification of medical devices and MEDDEV 2.1/6 Qualification and Classification of standalone software for more information.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) acts as the National Competent Authority for the United Kingdom on medical devices and would be able to help if you require further information about medical devices, the governance of medical devices or clarification on what constitutes a medical device - info@mhra.gsi.gov.uk.

I hope that clears up any confusion and if nothing else, helps me to get back to my day job!

But seriously, if you want to talk apps I’m more than happy to help. You can contact me on sarah.wood@dh.gsi.gov.uk.

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