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

Healthy Apps for Healthy Schools in Essex

Healthy Apps for Healthy Schools in Essex

Anglia Ruskin Health Partnership, Active Essex, Essex County Council, and ORCHA came together recognising the need to develop a different model of health care delivery for a new digitally active generation; one that embeds a pro-active approach to ‘looking after your own health from an early age’.

The Digitally Healthy Schools Programme is a direct response to increasing levels of concern about health outcomes for young people; particularly around mental health, sexual health and identity, and underlying determinants of health such as diet, weight and exercise.

Having initially scoped the programme for 5 schools, intense interest meant that roll out was extended to include 5 secondary schools and 6 primary schools in Essex. The project is looking at how digital solutions may offer a different and more accessible route into tackling these areas of concern amongst this traditionally difficult to engage demographic. Specifically, it is exploring the potential opportunity to use health apps in schools to improve the health and wellbeing of young people.

A key, and invaluable, outcome of this project will be the wider understanding of what motivates or switches off young people to use apps as part of how they look after themselves, and how they use the apps that they download. A planned by-product, however, will be any ‘halo’ effect that extends through families and the wider communities of those students involved; demonstrating if there is a greater take up of health apps wider than the project group.

In taking this opportunity to stimulate wider population take-up of digital health aides through targeting young people, this project will also develop transferable learning for the local health and care system about how to use digital technology – effectively – as an embedded part of the care process.

Implementation will be finished and evaluated by the end of the 2016/17 academic year. At that stage, a report will be produced that will extrapolate and articulate key learning and lessons to inform the wider health and education systems as they consider whether there is a case to be made for mainstreaming this approach at scale.

Driving mHealth uptake in Lancashire

Driving mHealth uptake in Lancashire

ORCHA have partnered up with Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, through the Lancashire Digital Health Programme, to face the challenge of making mHealth accessible across the disparate communities of Lancashire and South Cumbria. With the Programme involving the Councils, NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and numerous other organisations across the region, this work with ORCHA has become a key delivery project.

Dr Amanda Thornton, Clinical Director at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, explains where she sees the value of ORCHA to the population of Lancashire and South Cumbria: https://vimeo.com/195316024/5f9ac85572.

After months of preparation, testing (including with patients and clinicians) and tweaking, the region’s own portal is live https://lancashire.orcha.co.uk and creating a buzz. Health and care professionals are now familiarising themselves with the range of apps that are available for each condition or category, using the ORCHA review to inform their decisions, and making and managing recommendations through their very own ORCHA Pro pages. Members of the public are enjoying the confidence that comes with knowing which apps will have the best impact for them, and which will look after their personal data.

This progress is seeing the momentum building across the region that will ultimately lead to a cultural shift towards ownership of ‘your’ own health, and a focus on prevention/management rather than cure. It’s at that stage that real health improvements and a reduction in pressure on the local health and care systems will be tangible.

If you’re a health or care professional in the region, get in touch with andy.jeans@orcha.co.uk to find out more about how to get your very own ORCHA Pro account. If you’re a member of the public in the region, visit the portal and start making the most of the benefits it offers, or speak to your health and care professionals to find out if they’re signed up yet.

My Health UK

My Health UK

My Health UK has been developed by GPs from Elizabeth Street Surgery in Blackpool to address the challenges that have been facing general practice in recent years:

  • Empowering patients and encouraging self-care to be at the heart of their health,
  • Improving access by reducing the 60,000 missed GP appointments every day,
  • Targeting patients that need to be seen in primary care, and
  • Reducing the administrative burden and cost in primary care

The problem facing the developers of My Health UK, however, was how to differentiate their app within a saturated market so that they could sell it to the NHS. They needed it to be validated to make sure it would be seen as robust in the eyes of clinicians and patients, and they needed to make the app using community aware of their progress.

My Health UK on ORCHA website

Dr Sanjeev Maharaj, the driving force behind My Health UK, sought ORCHA to see how they could help. He was not only interested in how ORCHA could ensure My Health UK reached its true potential, but also loved what he knew of ORCHA and wanted to help ensure that ORCHA itself delivered for the healthcare system as a whole. As Dr Maharaj explains “ORCHA had a great concept of validating health apps to make it easy for patients and clinicians to choose the app that could improve health outcomes. What’s more, the value and risk score makes it easy at a glance to identify safe and appropriate apps.”

Understanding the potentially symbiotic relationship between the two organisations, they set out a plan to improve the robustness of their respective offerings; working together to review My Health UK using ORCHA’s review process, before discussing their findings in terms of both products.

By working collaboratively, the organisations had designed a process that added an additional level of robustness i) to My Health UK in terms of data security and user experience, and ii) to ORCHA around clinical pathways and clinician experience.

On the back of its ORCHA review, My Health UK was amended and re-reviewed – and now takes its place as one of the highest rated apps on every ORCHA portal and micro-site. My Health UK is now being successfully sold, and the success continues as Dr Maharaj has recently announced the agreement of an interface with EMIS “The My Health UK and EMIS partnership has created a unique interface and functionality not seen in primary care until now.” He explains how valuable this ORCHA experience has been in their success… “using an organisation like ORCHA can provide valuable insight, can help you create a product that can potentially have high value, and most importantly can help your app reach its target audience and reach its potential.”

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