Myth 4 We have SOOOO many health apps……..right???

Myth 4 We have SOOOO many health apps……..right???


Everyone talks about how many apps we have to help us to stay healthy and well, or to manage our health, and how the number of apps available has grown from 30,000 in 2013 to a whopping 327,000 as of today, BUT this isn’t really a true picture.

I can hear you asking WHY…….

Well if we take the 327,000 apps and first of all ask how many of these are ACTUALLY active, meaning how many are looked after, updated and kept fresh – the answer is only 112,000.

OK, so we have 112,000 health apps, so that’s still a lot…..isn’t it?

Wrong again!  If you now look at those apps, and apply a layer of evaluation, looking at whether the app is data secure, clinically safe or has met design standards, you will find only 10-15% pass, which means we are now at 15,000 health apps.

So, is this enough? 15,000 is still a large enough number……..right?


Let me explain, if there are 400 clinical condition areas and you have 1 app for each in both app stores, apple and google, you need 800.

You then add in some different dimensions of personal needs and characteristics like

Age, Gender, Visual, hearing or cognitive impairment

Add in another layer of personal preferences:

I want an app with a social network, I want an app which teaches me more about my condition, I cant pay for an app, I want an app which has games in it, I want it to work with my fitbit, garmin, alexa…..hopefully you get the picture……….lots of dimensions.

Well here at ORCHA we have worked out that if we want to help our populations find great apps across this range of needs and preferences we need around 30,000…………..and we only have half of that!

So the reality is we do not have enough great health apps, we need MORE innovation, we need these innovations to be of high quality and we need to help people get access to them.

This week it is the wonderful NHS Innovation EXPO, we are really excited to share how we are supporting over 15million people to find great health apps. We are also really keen to meet new innovations and organisations who want to use great apps!

If you have time, pop over and have a chat with the ORCHA team, we are in the innovation zone and are ready to meet you!

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!


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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!

MYTH 1 – One app will fit all!

MYTH 1 – One app will fit all!

MYTH 1 – One app will fit all?

At the minute, it seems everyone is on the hunt for that one diabetes app, or that one mental health app that will help EVERYONE who has that condition or need.  But I want to ask you- do we really think there is one app for all?

I get asked all the time, “Liz what is the best app?” my answer is simple,

That question is like asking “what is the best hotel in the world?”…….It depends, where I want to go, when and with whom. This is the same with apps!

Let me give you an example, when I was diagnosed with late onset Type 1 Diabetes, I needed information and education about my new diagnosis – I was in shock.  I may have also benefited from talking to other diabetic people to ask questions and learn about my new condition, and what is great is that we now see many apps with these functions and features, BUT now nearly ten years on I know about my condition, and really need a tool that will help me to monitor my sugars and provide me with data to help me manage my condition. My needs have CHANGED.

What would have worked for me before, is now fully redundant, but thankfully there is a whole load of other apps which offer me the features I now need.

I suppose this is where we started with medication, so years ago if we had an infection we would give everyone penicillin, but now we know different antibiotics work better in different infections, and as we move to a world including genomics, we can be even more precise!

We need to think about apps in the same way, one size will not fit all, and until we accept that, we will stop the right app from getting to the right person. We may even say that an app has failed, but it is more likely THAT app wasn’t designed for THAT person. If we can understand this we can move to a place where people can get the right products at the right time, and better outcomes can be achieved.

If you want to understand how you can help your populations and professionals to choose the best app for them, their families or their patients get in touch with ORCHA today at

Liz Ashall-Payne
CEO and Founder

Message from our Founder – Liz Ashall-Payne

Message from our Founder – Liz Ashall-Payne

Think of any aspect of your health and wellbeing which you might want to improve upon. Have you ever tried to search the app store for a solution? You can be certain that an app already exists for it, there may even be upwards of a thousand! What is not certain is whether these health apps will work for you. Which is why I founded ORCHA in 2015. We review health and care apps, which provide the end user and professionals with the certainty that they are getting a decent solution.


 The growth in m-health

Apps are presenting new and exciting opportunities for both users and the NHS. As of 2015, it was estimated that 71% of Britons (45.5million in total) owned a smartphone, 75% use smartphones or tablets to search for health information online, and over 90% said that would use mobile-health services to talk with healthcare professionals. Apps enable the possibility of making positive changes from the comfort of your own home, without the hassle of long waiting lists and fitting in appointments to an already busy schedule.

When I had the idea to set up ORCHA, it was in the wake of unprecedented National Health Service (NHS) efficiency savings, increasing waiting lists, and a looming shortage of trained medical professionals. Those of us who are concerned with proactively managing our health are increasingly turning to mobile (or ‘m-health’), and the use of unregulated apps. This infant industry was quickly gathering momentum with an estimated 170,000 health apps available for download as of 2015. The widespread availability of mobile health solutions presents an accessible, affordable and inviting opportunity. Yet there was little regulation within this growing industry. My idea was to provide a review system, which would guarantee quality to the end user, and to provide health and care systems with a vehicle which would enable them to get the best apps to their patients and citizens.


Mind the gap!

The reality is that there exists a considerable gap between the potential benefits that apps could provide in theory, and what they are likely delivering in practice. Recent reviews in the therapeutic areas of bulimia, asthma, PTSD, and even suicide prevention have shown disturbing conclusions regarding the quality, scientific basis and often blatant disregard for safety, of a great number of apps available.


Why we need to regulate this industry?

Setting a high standard from the outset is crucial to achieving long-term benefit for both patients and the NHS. Through identifying and actively promoting the most clinically effective, safe and beneficial apps earlier in an individual’s m-health journey, all the potential benefits of apps have a far greater chance of being realised.

ORCHA have now enabled the NHS and its patients can begin take full advantage of the apps revolution and engage with this 21st century solution. We hope that this will result in a more flexible and accessible healthcare system. But only through identifying a means of assessing the quality, safety, value and risk of the hundreds of thousands of apps available to choose from, can we begin to do so.

For more information on ORCHA, visit:

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