A Digital Supplement for Eating Disorder Service

A Digital Supplement for Eating Disorder Service

An estimated 89,600 people across Lancashire have an eating disorder and this figure is growing by 7% each year.  With no single cause, these complex mental health conditions include bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and anorexia nervosa, and can affect men and women of all ages.

Eating disorders can severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them and can shorten a person’s life.  But with the right care, people can recover.

To provide the right support, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust provides an eating disorder service, run from clinics across the region.  The team includes specialist nurses, psychologists, dietitians, and therapists, offering a wide range of care.

The team hadn’t consistently used digital solutions as part of therapy, but saw that patients were increasingly on digital media.  When the Trust provided its staff with access to the ORCHA platform, the eating disorder team immediately saw the potential and now prescribes health apps to supplement and enhance its therapy.

Dr Hannah Wilson, Clinical Psychologist, explains:

The ORCHA platform includes in-depth evaluations of health apps, enabling the team to find safe and effective apps to help a patient, and the tools to prescribe them.  Before ORCHA I would have to spend at least a week using an app myself, to be clear on what I am asking of a client, and whilst I still now take a look, I don’t need to take as long and feel reassured it has been reviewed against the criteria that matter. I can’t try out the thousands of apps out there and so it’s good to know that work has been done for me.

Also when a client shows me an app they have found, I check its ORCHA review and so can advise if they should continue to use it or if there is a more effective app for their need.

One app the team have found particularly useful is Recovery Record. With meal logs, meal plans, coping skills, secure messages, data & charts, it provides valuable support to the patient, whilst building useful behaviour information to review during appointments.

The team also prescribe Mindfulness apps such as Happier.  Although they are not specific to an eating disorder, the app can be used to lift a patient’s mood, meditate, or capture happy moments; which can all help patients to stay positive.

On the contribution apps make to the practice, Dr Wilson explains:

For me, eating disorders are complex. An app by itself is unlikely to be enough to enable a patient to recover, but I have found that they support, supplement and back up sessions. The apps enable patients to receive some support between appointments.

For example, they help people to more accurately monitor what we have asked them to, be it their mood or what they’ve eaten.  People carry their phone everywhere and so are much more likely to simply and discretely make a note, rather than pull a piece of paper that could be spotted by others or lost.  Apps can also provide a source of motivation to help patients keep to their treatment plans.  Some also provide real practical assistance with meal planning.

Our clients of all ages use apps every day.  If we can become part of that world, we can become more effective and sustainable.  Apps also provide a great tool for patients to use long after they have been discharged from our service, to help maintain their progress and stay well.

Source:  https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/media-centre/eating-disorder-statistics

Making it even easier to find good health apps.

Making it even easier to find good health apps.

Home to the world’s only comparison site of health apps, we are passionate about helping patients and professionals find and compare health apps against a range of criteria including data security, clinical safety, and usability.

On behalf of NHS, Educational and Corporate organisations across the UK and Europe, we review more apps than anyone else, checking against more than 140 criteria and create local targeted app libraries which drive user and professional uptake of the best apps on the market. Up until now we have published the results of all reviews on our site, highlighting how an app rates against this criteria, giving an overall score and providing the review details behind this.

After listening to our clients along with feedback from clinical and medical professionals we have created an improved offer which aims to drive even easier access to the best health apps on the market.

So what is different?

For Apps that are classified as  a level 4 (meaning the highest Level of complexity and therefore hold a greater clinical safety risk), we have introduced minimum compliance criteria. Such Apps will now have to demonstrate a suitably qualified professional or body behind the App and evidence of the App’s effectiveness in suitable studies or trials. All Apps which fall into this classification AND that fail to meet this minimum criteria will be excluded from all ORCHA platforms, meaning people, patients and professionals will only be able to find, download and recommend the best.

Talking of the change, Liz Ashall Payne said: “We help both the NHS and organisations supporting health and wellbeing, to successfully integrate safe and effective health apps into their services.  We also advise developers on the stringent requirements needed within the health and care market, to help support the creation of revolutionary apps. We think this change will make health app choices even clearer for patients.”

If you want to learn more please get in touch!

Email Hello@orcha.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter @ORCHAuk

ORCHA team up with the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine

ORCHA team up with the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine

We have teamed up with the British Society for Lifestyle Medicine (BSLM) to provide an online platform for members to prescribe ‘apps’ to patients.

In their recent newsletter, Dr Sohaib Imtiaz MPH, wrote:

Digital health is advancing rapidly and patients are increasingly engaging with apps and using their smartphones to stay healthy. A health professional can’t be present all the time for patients and apps help empower patients to take charge of their own health. Many apps use the principles of gamification, tracking and health promotion to enable patients to become healthier which over time enables behaviour change. ORCHA has created a search engine for reviewed health apps that have been rated by their team after going through a robust process. The search engine allows you to search for an app based on keywords and demographic details with results featuring apps with different ratings for clinical effectiveness, data security and the pro and cons. ORCHA has produced bslm.orcha.co.uk, which is tailored for the BSLM with a consistent theme and a focus on apps geared towards lifestyle medicine.

Signing up for a pro account allows you to ‘prescribe’ apps to your patients by sending a ‘link’ via messaging such as text or e-mail. Preventative medicine is going to increasingly rely on Digital therapeutics to help people stay healthy. Increasingly patients will want digital solutions and the ORCHA platform allows you to have a validated method of suggesting the best apps for there concerns. As the digital innovation director and an advocate of technology I am excited about the potential this collaboration could bring for promoting lifestyle medicine. If you’re interested in signing up for a pro account, e-mail sam@orcha.co.uk in order to set it up.

Great to be working with the team at BSLM!


Two innovative NW health organisations selected for national NHS support

Two innovative NW health organisations selected for national NHS support

Two innovative health products developed in Merseyside and Cheshire are among 11 selected to join the prestigious NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA).

The Accelerator is run by NHS England in partnership with Academic Health Science Networks – including the Innovation Agency, the AHSN for the North West Coast. The programme accelerates the uptake of high impact products throughout the NHS, providing a vital boost for innovators.

ORCHA provides a health app finder platform for health organisations and individuals, allowing easy and clear access to verified apps. The company began in Liverpool and recently moved to Sci-Tech Daresbury, near Warrington.

ORCHA Chief Executive Liz Ashall-Payne said: “We are delighted to be part of the National Innovation Accelerator and are excited to be able to scale up our work to deliver more health benefits across England.”

Also new to the Accelerator is Liverpool-based Damibu with their app CATCH – Common Approach To Children’s Health. This has been supported by the Innovation Agency, who are funding its use in maternity and children’s services in Cheshire and Merseyside.

The CATCH app gives parents appropriate and understandable information when they need it, via smartphone or tablet. Avoiding the inappropriate use of NHS services when self-care would be more appropriate.

Damibu Chief Executive Dave Burrows said: “The Damibu team are really excited about the possibilities that joining the NIA family has to offer.  Damibu is already known within the North West for its health innovations, as shown by the NHS North West Excellence in Supply Award we won last month.

“Being selected for the NIA gives us a springboard to spread our innovations nationally.  We intend to make the most of this unique opportunity.”

The Innovation Agency has supported both Damibu and Orcha to spread their innovations in the North West Coast. Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear said: “I am absolutely delighted that two innovators in our region have been selected for this prestigious NHS programme. We have been supporting their teams for some time and I’m proud that we’ve been able to help them reach this stage; I’m sure they will now experience a boost in the spread of their innovations.”

Since it launched in July 2015, the NIA has supported the uptake and spread of 25 high-impact, evidence-based innovations across 799 NHS organisations.

Each of the new innovations joining the NIA in 2017 offer solutions to key challenges in primary care, urgent and emergency care and mental health. Their selection follows an international and robust selection process, including review by a collegiate of over 100 assessors and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive said: “Modern medicine is on the cusp of a huge shift in how care is delivered, and practical innovations like these show how NHS patients will now directly benefit. More tests and patient monitoring will be done at home or on the move, without the need to pitch up to a doctor’s appointment or hospital outpatients.”

Ian Dodge, National Director for Strategy and Innovation at NHS England, said: “Since it started, the NHS Innovation Accelerator has continued to deliver for patients and the taxpayer. It’s just one of the ways that the NHS is getting its act together to provide practical help for innovators with the best ideas. From a small investment, we are already seeing very big benefits – safer care for patients, better value for taxpayers, new jobs created and export wins.”

The 11 innovations selected to join the NIA in 2017 are:

  • CATCH – Common Approach To Children’s Health: Addressing the inappropriate use of NHS services when self-care would be more appropriate, the CATCH app gives parents appropriate and understandable information when they need and want it, via smartphone or tablet.
  • ORCHA: ORCHA or Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Applications, works with CCGs and providers to develop health app portals, allowing professionals easy and clear access to a verified resource. This enables them to enhance services and outcomes by finding and recommending the best apps to patients
  • Dip.io: App which turns a smartphone into a clinical device, providing patients with clinically accurate urine analysis from home in a matter of minutes
  • ESCAPE-pain: ‘Enabling Self-management and Coping of Arthritic Pain through Exercise’ or ESCAPE-pain, is a six-week group programme delivered to people aged 45+ with Osteoarthritis (OA).
  • FREED: The FREED ‘first episode rapid early intervention service for eating disorders’ model of care provides a rapid early response intervention for young people aged 16 to 25 years with short (three years or less) first episode illness duration.
  • Home monitoring of hypertension in pregnancy (HaMpton): New care pathway involving the use of an app for monitoring high blood pressure at home, empowering expectant mothers to be involved in their own care.
  • Lantum: A cloud-based tool built to help NHS Providers fill empty shifts in clinical rotas.
  • My Diabetes My Way: Low-cost, scalable, comprehensive online self-management platform for people with diabetes.
  • Oviva Diabetes Support: A fully remote, technology-enabled programme of type 2 diabetes structured education, combining 1-to-1 support from a registered dietitian with evidence-based online educational materials and use of the Oviva app to support behaviour change.
  • RespiraSense: The world’s first continuous respiratory rate monitor, enabling medical teams the ability to detect signs of patient deterioration 12 hours earlier than the standard of care.
  • WaitLess: Free, patient-facing app which shows patients the fastest place to access urgent care services for minor conditions.


For more information about the NIA, visit www.nhsaccelerator.com.

MYTH 2- Accreditation of apps – it’s a one-time thing!

MYTH 2- Accreditation of apps – it’s a one-time thing!

Myth 2

Apps change all the time, that’s what they are meant to do – respond to user feedback, iterate and change. That’s why they are so great!

Apps start with the user and as these users provide feedback and request new functions or features, the app developer responds, its why the world of mhealth is so promising, they are agile!

So why is that we think a review or an accreditation of an app is a one-time thing where the review stays static, but the app changes……do we honestly think that will work?

I suppose we could ask developers to stop iterating and changing the app, but don’t we WANT apps to grow and respond to users with better functions, features and benefits?

Surely the review process must follow this agile route? To RESPOND to the market, WORK WITH the amazing market place of mhealth, and although changing our thinking can be difficult, its imperative if we are going to be able to really engage with and benefit from this growing opportunity.

The main challenge here is knowing whether an app has been updated, and asking the app developer to highlight them to the reviewer, is an unlikely scenario. App developers are busy, building, user testing, selling, growing a market presence, running a business, and normally with a limited resource. We need to help them get there, not create another job to do.

This wicked problem has been solved, we can help you know if apps have been updated on a weekly basis, and are keen to work with you today!

My plea to you is if you are thinking about reviewing, accrediting or endorsing apps please remember, the app WILL change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse and if the review process takes a long time, by the time the review is completed, you will probably find its out of date, and the review is redundant ………..worse still another few thousand will have come onto the market and you haven’t noticed.

At ORCHA we start with the full market place each week, and we receive notifications to re-review any updated apps, it works and it means the information we provide people, patients and professionals with is fit for use. Read more on our About page

Please get in touch to learn more about how we keep abreast of the market place and how we could work with you today!

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