The NHS Commissioning Board has launched a library of NHS-reviewed health apps to help people manage their health.

The new Health Apps Library so far contains around 70 apps that have been produced by a variety of organisations, which have been reviewed by the NHS to ensure they are clinically safe.

The apps in the library will help people with tasks such as getting advice on their condition, booking repeat prescriptions, accessing test results, sharing care plans online, and finding the most appropriate NHS service. One of the apps also enables the public to find clinical trials to participate in based on conditions they have and where they live.

The library is part of the NHS Commissioning Board’s commitment to improving patient outcomes through the use of technology, and comes just more than a year after the UK Government began its “Maps and Apps” programme, which will lead to GPs being able to “prescribe” apps for patients.

Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at the NHS Commissioning Board, said: “Giving people easier access to their NHS and improving outcomes with technology is something we are strongly committed to. People now use smartphone apps in almost all walks of life and health is no different. There is somewhere in the region of 13,000 apps out there that profess to give various types of medical advice. The library is a way of giving an NHS stamp of approval to apps so users know they are safe.”

Kelsey said that giving people access to information through apps puts patients in control and encourages them to participate more in their own care. Access to health and care data is central to the NHS’ vision of delivering a patient-centred NHS, he added.

The library is being launched at the NHS Innovation Expo conference in London, which is being held on 13 and 14 March. The library will be available at and via the NHS Choices website.

App competition

Also at the conference, agency Creative England – in collaboration with the NHS Commissioning Board – will launch a £250,000 investment fund designed to support app development that may benefit patients and the public, with the NHS Commissioning Board suggesting the priority areas where apps might be most helpful.

Small and medium size enterprises will be invited to apply for funding and the competition will result in the development of five new healthcare apps, which will be 50% funded by the fund and 50% by the successful SME.