Driving Digital Health Apps with Business Growth Hub

Driving Digital Health Apps with Business Growth Hub

We have entered into a partnership with Greater Manchester’s Business Growth Hub.

The Business Growth Hub has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with us to recognise the emergence of medtech and digital health in Greater Manchester.


For healthcare developers in Greater Manchester, this agreement provides access to information on how to make their app better, including advice on how to break into niche health and care sectors; how to develop new routes to the health and wellbeing market  and impartial feedback on their product.

Ian MacArthur, head of Sectors at Business Growth Hub, said:

“Greater Manchester has a great community of app developers already working in the health sector, and a great deal more with the potential to enter this market. Working with ORCHA we will open up new markets and ensure the apps are fit for purpose and commercially successful.”

Liz Ashall-Payne, our CEO, said:

“We want to support app developers in Manchester by offering a new route to market and showcasing the very best health apps. App developers we work with benefit from impartial feedback and comparison with others in the market to improve their product. Together we can create a thriving market place for apps that really benefit people and communities.”

To read the full news story, check out the articles on the following sites:







Ormiston Rivers Academy

As part of the roll out of the Digital Healthy Schools Programme in Essex, ORCHA engaged with a group of students from Ormiston Rivers Academy who are using mHealth solutions to help them with the roll out of their own initiative…

ReThink, a group of KS4 students from Ormiston Rivers Academy in Essex, are raising awareness of taboo subjects such as sexual and mental health, and issues surrounding the LGBT+ community.

Having felt that they missed out on elements of this education, they have completed qualifications and are now rolling out assemblies and classes in their school. They regularly host events aimed at raising awareness and supporting their peers through potentially turbulent and ambiguous times, being adamant that “we would rather have an uncomfortable population than an uneducated one”.

Wanting to normalise how their peers think about these subjects, the group are looking at how to increase the use mHealth solutions and apps to back up their message; reasoning that encouraging app use means this education and positive thinking continues outside the classroom.

The group already use Period Trackers as a key element of their advised support, but had mixed experiences finding one that they rated highly enough to recommend. So, when ORCHA came to present for the Digital Healthy Schools Programme, the group were impressed by the potential ORCHA brings; helping users identify the best apps for men’s health, women’s health, and sexual health for example.

They can now easily research the best apps and recommend them as part of their advice, or point peers to the Essex Digital Healthy Schools Programme ORCHA page, aimed at school children in Essex, at myhealthessex.orcha.co.uk and let them research apps themselves. As Miss Marable, Teacher of Religious Studies, Citizenship and Sociology, explains “it’s really exciting to see how two such important initiatives [ReThink and the Digital Healthy Schools Programme] have the potential to support each other and positively impact both the physical and psychological wellbeing of our students”. Dr Muhammad Khan, Medical Adviser at ORCHA, continues “there is such an exciting symbiosis here, and there is so much potential to make a real difference to the wellbeing of young people in the area”.

ReThink now hope to raise more awareness of their work and find a way to get sustainable funding so they can increase their span of influence to the whole of Essex and beyond.

To find out more about the Digital Healthy Schools Programme or how ReThink are using ORCHA, or if you’d like to support ReThink get in touch with Andy Jeans

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 Hello@orcha.co.uk

Liz Ashall-Payne
CEO and Founder

Applying the ORCHA-24 framework to evaluate apps for chronic insomnia disorder

Applying the ORCHA-24 framework to evaluate apps for chronic insomnia disorder

BACKGROUND: Mobile-health offers many opportunities, however the ‘side-effects’ of health-apps are often unclear. With no guarantee health-apps first do no harm, their role as a viable, safe, and effective therapeutic option is limited.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of apps for chronic insomnia disorder, available on the Android Google Play Store, and determine whether a novel approach to app-assessment could identify high quality and low risk health-apps in the absence of indicators such as NHS-approval.

METHODS: The ORCHA-24, 24 app-assessment criteria concerning data privacy, clinical efficacy, and user experience, answered on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, evidence-driven basis; was applied to assess 18 insomnia apps identified via the Android Google Play Store, in addition to the NHS-approved iOS app Sleepio™.

FINDINGS: 63.2% of apps (12/19) provided a privacy policy, with seven (36.8%) stating no user data would be shared without explicit consent. 10.5% (2/19) stated they had been shown to be of benefit to those with insomnia, with CBT apps outperforming hypnosis and meditation apps (p=0.046). Both the number of app downloads(p=0.29), and user-review scores (p=0.23) were unrelated to ORCHA-24 scores. The NHS-approved app Sleepio™, consistently outperformed non-accredited apps across all domains of the ORCHA-24.

CONCLUSION: Apps for chronic insomnia disorder exhibit substantial variation in adherence to published data privacy, user experience, and clinical efficacy standards; which are not clearly correlated with app downloads or user-review scores.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: In absence of formal app accreditation, the ORCHA-24 could feasibly be used to highlight the risk-benefit profiles of health-apps prior to downloading.

Read the full paper below:


Effective? Engaging? Secure? Applying the ORCHA-24 framework to evaluate apps for chronic insomnia disorder

ORCHA and Lancashire Evaluation – Phase 1 Pilot Report

ORCHA and Lancashire Evaluation – Phase 1 Pilot Report

Lancashire Evaluation Report Summary

Phase 1 effectively went live in January 2017. Although the platform was live before this, this was still in the early testing phase and initial project mobilisation period and as such the platform wasn’t truly active.

Between January to July 2017, the platform:

  • Attracted over 3,000 visits. With average visitor numbers moving towards 1,000 visits per month in June 2017.

This resulted in:

  • Over 1400 App searches being undertaken
  • 110 Professional and Patient user registrations with a final quarter average of 27 registrations per month and
  • 88 App recommendations

The Phase 1 pilot identified a huge number of lessons learnt as we hoped it would and has led to a significant shift in user acquisition and conversion strategies alongside significant improvements in the overall platform features and performance.

We approach Phase 2 armed with a substantial array of tangible initiatives that we are confident will significantly accelerate the wider adoption and dissemination of the platform and the consequential wider digital activation of the Lancashire and South Cumbria clinical teams and population.

Read the full report below:


Lancashire ORCHA - Phase 1 Pilot - Evaluation

Digital Healthy Schools Evaluation

Digital Healthy Schools Evaluation

Digital Healthy Schools Evaluation Summary

Nine-in-ten children in the UK now own a mobile phone [1], and increasing evidence is supporting the use of health-applications (apps) as a tool to improve health outcomes [2-5]. There is currently an unmet need to develop different models of healthcare delivery for a new digitally active generation; one that embeds a pro-active approach to looking after your own health from an early age. Given the recent engagement in exercise-promoting gamified technologies including Pokémon GO [6], digital solutions may offer a different and more accessible route into tackling areas of concern within children’s health, including diet and exercise, sexual and mental health [7].

Recent findings from the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade body representative of global mobile operators, suggest that of the nine-in-ten children who own a mobile phone [1], approximately 80% (of those aged 8-18) will be the owner of a brand-new handset [8]. Given the wide scale availability, low cost, and market-growth experienced by health-applications (apps), the question arises as to whether this infant therapeutic medium could be put to good effect, among those in whom digital engagement is already at its peak.

With over 300,000 health-apps available globally [9], the possibilities presented by high levels of digital engagement among children, including harnessing apps to improve health outcomes, are considerable. What is unclear however, is whether this infant and largely untested and un-validated technology, can be used in a manner which is not only effective and engaging, but also safe for use by children. Much like information found on the internet, the quality of health apps is largely unclear, with a number having the potential to result in more harm than good. As such, it is vital that before children embrace this technology, there is first and foremost, a means of safeguarding potential users and highlighting the potential risks and benefits of health-apps, such that informed decisions can be made.

Read the full report below:



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