Pupils Put their Mobiles to Good Use

Pupils Put their Mobiles to Good Use

Children starting Secondary School this September were born the year the first iPhone was released.  Eleven years on and 83% own a smartphone, using them for 2.58 hours every day on average and it’s the device they would miss the most. Yet whilst prolific on snapchat, young people’s understanding and knowledge of potentially helpful features such as health and well-being apps is very low, with usage at 27%.

With one in three children entering Secondary School obese and mental health problems amongst school age children rising, NHS and Council services across Lancashire and Cumbria are working together to harness the prevalence of mobiles for good and to creatively engage young people in managing their own health.

Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria has rolled out an education programme, Digital Healthy Schools, for more than one thousand pupils in twenty secondary schools across the region. Through assemblies and hands-on workshops, pupils are encouraged to learn more about health conditions whilst exploring the topic of app development and app reviews in PHSE and science lessons.

Vitally, with no regulation in Apple or Google app stores, pupils were given advice on what to look for in an app around safety, data security and clinical effectiveness.  They also had access to an app comparison site, which features apps evaluated against 150 criteria and suitable for children.

The programme was devised and run by ORCHA, which is a leading health app evaluation and advisor organisation, home to the world’s biggest health app comparison site, and part of NHS England’s National Innovation Accelerator Programme.

Since the start of the programme in February 2018, pupils have discovered and downloaded more than 88 different apps onto their phones and 50% of pupils who participated now use a health app.  Pupils have reported changing a range of behaviours, from swapping car journeys to walking, drinking more water and going to bed earlier.

Between February and May the top five most downloaded apps were:

  1. Lincus companion – Allows you to track a number of complex health conditions as well as tracking general day to day wellbeing.
  2. Fitbit – the well-known activity tracker.
  3. Sleepio – designed to teach you how to overcome even long term poor sleep without pills or potions.
  4. Best-You – An app that allows a user to self-manage, this may be of illness such as Asthma or it may be managing lifestyle habits.
  5. My Health UK – connecting pupils with primary care services, allowing users to book appointments or access their health records.

One of the schools running the programme is Witton Park Academy in Blackburn.  With more than 1,000 pupils aged 11 to 16, the academy’s vision is to make every pupil a success in all aspects of their life, which includes their health.  Commenting on the programme, Mr Archer commented: “Using apps is second nature to young people, they embraced the programme immediately.  It created conversation and enabled technology’s positive role to shine through.  Pupils have actively used apps to adopt changes to their lifestyles, particularly around diet and exercise – although one pupil even found an app to better treat his mum’s eczema! It’s great to see them taking responsibility for their own health.”

Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO ORCHA and current NIA Fellow said: “On average it takes ten years between a child with a long term condition experiencing a symptom and actually asking for help.  Apps are a safe way to learn more about your own health and can form part of a wider solution to cut this time. By increasing children’s knowledge in this area, they will be able to safely engage with these valuable tools.”

Dr Amanda Thornton, Digital Health Clinical Lead for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria and commissioner of the programme confirmed her delight at its success. She said: “it’s important to keep children safe online, but also important to encourage them to keep well – and use digital tools to help them do so. ORCHA has prompted some great conversations in schools and helped enforce the message that we want to empower every person to feel confident and capable of making informed decisions about their health behaviours, and to understand the health consequences of those decisions. It’s all of our responsibility to take an active role in looking after our own health, and the job of health and care services to work together to make this as easy as possible. “

To find out about the work of Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, visit: www.healthierlsc.co.uk

Notes for editors:

Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria has recently launched the ‘Our Digital Future’ Strategy. This outlines a number of shared principles for developing digital solutions between partner organisations – including hospital trusts, NHS organisations and Local Authorities. These principles include:

  • We will create digital solutions with the people who will be using them
  • We will judge our progress against this digital strategy from the public’s perspective
  • We will create an environment that empowers our frontline
  • We will use data to prevent, predict and respond to ill-health
  • We will work together to reduce complexity in order to improve quality and safety
  • We will engage with academia, industry and others to accelerate innovation

The strategy covers five inter-connected themes to improve our health and care which are:

  • Empowering the person
  • Supporting the frontline
  • Integrating services
  • Managing the system more effectively
  • Creating the future


To download a copy of the strategy and for all the latest digital health news for Lancashire and South Cumbria, visit https://healthierlsc.co.uk/digitalfuture


ORCHA Wins Chamber of Commerce Award

ORCHA Wins Chamber of Commerce Award

We are delighted to announce that Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO, ORCHA, was named Entrepreneur of the Year, in the Halton Chamber of Commerce & Enterprise 2018 Awards.

The judges assessed organisations from across the region, looking for high levels of growth, strong financial performance and innovation.

Under Liz’s management, ORCHA has grown from an innovative health concept to its current position as the world leader in health and care app assessments.  From Daresbury Science Park, the team drive standards and help NHS and care organisations across the world to capitalise on the power digital health apps have to offer.

Liz Ashall Payne said “the work the Chamber does is so important, giving a voice to the varied businesses in our region.  I am proud that ORCHA was selected from amongst very tough competition to win this award.”

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!


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