ORCHA at the Health and Social Care Select Committee

As Steve Brine MP, and Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, observes “The NHS is one of the most important subjects around at the moment.”  

Digital health can help address NHS pressures, including those seen in urgent and elective care, and so we are especially proud and encouraged that ORCHA was invited as a Witness to speak at the Health and Social Care Select Committee, as it looked to assess the progress made to achieve a digitally enabled health system across the NHS.  

ORCHA was invited, together with Diabetes UK and Cystic Fibrosis Trust, to discuss the steps that will help the NHS to accelerate its digital transformation.  

Our thoughts on this subject include:  

The majority of people in the UK agree that it was vital we all look at new ways to manage our health, including using high-quality digital health apps. 62% of people in the UK agree with this, of which 41% strongly agree.  

Amongst people who have used a health app, satisfaction is very high. Overall, 85% of people who have used a health app are satisfied with it, with 36% of those being very satisfied.  

But, although there is advocacy amongst the majority for digital health to support their mental health, when asked, the public does have concerns that should be addressed. These include clinical efficacy, data security and financial. 

These concerns are well placed. ORCHA has assessed 23,000 health apps against 350+ criteria across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility. Only 20% meet quality thresholds.  

The NHS is a heavily governed sector; we expect policy and process, to assure that the right decisions are being made for patient safety. The controlled stages of assessment, education and distribution have long been in place for medicine.  

Digital health technologies bring significant benefit, but can also bring risk. A product not fit for purpose can affect a person’s physical or mental health, arising from the operation of the product itself, such as inaccurate diagnosis, unsafe treatment delivery, or incorrect guidance.  

Key take aways:  

Considering this, as discussed today, we recommend that the committee considers: 

  1. Awareness – People don’t know that these technologies exist. Both the public and health and care professionals need to be familiar with the product they are recommending in order to feel comfortable promoting it. 
  2. Accessibility – Once a healthcare professional is ready to recommend or prescribe a product it is crucial that there is an easy and accessible method of doing this. If DHP recommendation and prescribing is to become an integral part of day to day health and care delivery, it needs to be systematised and incorporated into HCP’s usual working practices.   
  3. Trust – to be able to trust that every product in question is safe and effective. A proportionate, objective and continuous assessment process is needed.  
  4. Governance and reimbursement – to be comfortable with the risk associated with their engagement and active promotion of digital health products. Ensuring assessments are continuous, liability is clear, and tracking plus payment is essential.   


To watch the discussion: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/83689477-cb0e-4812-bce4-523a42acd8ee