A study into digital health validation solutions by American research university, Johns Hopkins University and its affiliates.


Research in npj Digital Medicine journal parallels ORCHA’s vision for validated health apps

Kate Gilding

Marketing Manager

Featured in international journal, npj Digital Medicine, a study into digital health validation solutions by American research university, Johns Hopkins University and its affiliates, directly parallels ORCHA’s vision for validated health apps.

The study, which can be read here, outlines the existing digital health landscape, explaining that ‘Although some digital health products have been rigorously studied to determine clinical effectiveness, such evaluation is not widespread.’ (p. 1) It then goes on to describe Johns Hopkins University’s proposed solution to the problem of unregulated mHealth: a ‘digital health Scorecard’ (p. 4) that can meet the ‘need for [a] requirements-driven approach.’ (p. 4) Such a concept is of particular interest to ORCHA, as our 180-point app review process compiles multiple measures within a scorecard for each app. Our method of reviewing and thus scoring apps provides a robust framework, contributing to the aspired landscape of validated digital health apps.

Johns Hopkins University cites the ‘Broad criteria for [health app] approval, defined by NHS Digital and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’ (p. 4) as ‘pertain[ing] to clinical effectiveness, regulatory approval, clinical safety, privacy & confidentiality, security, usability & accessibility, interoperability, technical stability, and change management.’ (p. 4) Similarly, the ORCHA Review measures each app’s Data Privacy, Clinical Assurance, and User Experience, as well as outlining its specific functions and features.

ORCHA addresses the key barriers to digital health adoption – access, awareness, trust and governance – by providing an App Library in which consumers and healthcare professionals can search for and download health apps which have been reviewed according to ORCHA’s multifaceted framework. We also give clinicians the opportunity to digitally recommend apps to patients by using an ORCHA Pro Account. This satisfies the point raised in Johns Hopkins University’s study: in reference to ‘clinician workflow’, the study advises that ‘digital health solutions […] must pay attention to ease of accomplishing the expected tasks.’ (p. 6) By making it easy for healthcare professionals to not only understand the safety and effectiveness of health apps, but also to quickly recommend apps to their patients, ORCHA saves time for busy clinicians during what would otherwise be a lengthy validation process.

ORCHA takes action against the hundreds of thousands of unregulated health apps on the market by taking a structured and methodical approach to providing mHealth validation. We keep up with the rapidly changing digital health landscape by constantly evaluating and revising the way in which our App Review framework can make accessing trustworthy digital health even easier for patients, professionals and populations.

Through our understanding of the digital health landscape as one that is both complex and dynamic, we choose to be innovative in our solutions and their delivery. In doing so, we facilitate trust in a characteristically uncertain environment. ORCHA is expanding beyond the UK, implementing digital health solutions across national and international health and care organisations, thereby allowing access, trust and understanding to continue evolving on a global scale.

Just as Johns Hopkins University emphasises that overcoming the digital health challenge will not be instant as ‘The road to validating digital health will take resources, collaboration, and time’ (p. 7), ORCHA realises that the journey to complete digital health validation is ongoing. The increasing demand for digital health solutions illustrates a market that is far from static. ORCHA’s solution offers a strong starting point for enacting the necessary change to sustain the expanding and evolving need for digital health.