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Mobile apps and fitness trackers to feed health data into NHS records

Published 07/09/2016

Patients will be able to check their symptoms online
Patients will be able to check their symptoms online

Data from health apps and wearable activity trackers such as Fitbits will feed directly into people's personal health records, the Health Secretary has announced.

Jeremy Hunt said that a new list of NHS-approved health apps and other technology will be able to be linked directly into patient records.

Speaking at the NHS Expo event in Manchester, Mr Hunt announced a series of measures to " help put patients in control of their healthcare destiny".

The new NHS IT package includes plans for a one-stop NHS website where patients book appointments, order prescriptions and access medical advice.

For minor ailments patients will be able to use an online symptom checker, and they will be able to read up on all manner of diseases.

The new NHS.uk website will also enable patients in England to register with a GP and download their secure medical records.

Patients will be able to compare how well their local health service performs against others in key areas including cancer, dementia, diabetes, mental health, learning disabilities and maternity care.

Meanwhile, NHS England will approve a library of apps so people can have confidence in the technology that they are using to manage their healthcare, Mr Hunt said.

"We are going to make very big moves in the next 12 months into apps and wearables," said Mr Hunt.

"I wear a Fitbit, many people use apps. What is going to change with apps is the way that these apps link directly into our own medical records.

"And by March next year NHS England are going to publish a library of approved apps in areas like mental health and chronic conditions like diabetes.

"We will also in the next 12 months be having a competition because we think we need better apps than the ones that are available in the market. We don't want to develop them ourselves but we want them to be developed by entrepreneurs who have the specialist knowledge and creativity to do this.

"These will link into people's medical records and we hope to announce these at Expo next year."

He said the new package of measures would help put patients from the smartphone generation "in control of their healthcare destiny".

The news comes as a Europe-wide poll showed that young adults are more likely to trust advice from forums and chat rooms over peer-reviewed websites.

The poll of 5,000 Europeans, including 1,000 people from the UK, found that 53% of 18-24-year-olds take comfort in hearing about people's health experiences that are similar to theirs.

The survey, conducted by Teva Pharmaceuticals Europe, also found that less than a quarter trust online health websites.

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From Belfast Telegraph