GPs told to 'prescribe' smartphone apps

GPs will direct patients to health-related apps as part of a government scheme to encourage more self-care at home, the DH has announced.

Andrew Lansley: 'Information about your health is a service.'
Andrew Lansley: 'Information about your health is a service.'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said patients should be able to access health advice and services through their smartphones in the same way they read news or use social networks.

The government is considering how best to encourage greater use of apps among patients, 'including how GPs could offer them for free'.

It comes after a DH competition to find the best health apps recieved nearly 500 entries.

Mr Lansley said: 'So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch. I want to make using apps to track BP, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm.'

He added: 'Information about your health is a service – just like the GP surgeries, walk-in centres and hospitals that millions of people access every week. With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat.'

Popular apps identified in the DH competition include ones for managing long-term conditions such as diabetes, monitor BP and find NHS services.

An app called 'Patients Know Best' allows patients to access records and permits online consultations, automated results and set out a care plan. The app is already in use in some GP practices.

GPs who create their own health apps have been advised to register them as health devices by charity that promotes health technology.

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