Physical and mental well being are major concerns for the public during COVID-19 lockdown, and it is now predicted that self-care will become part of the everyday routine. Lockdown has worsened existing issues with food and mental health but has also rapidly boosted people’s acceptance for digital healthcare. This is expected to increase the demand on dietetic services, and with social distancing, new remote ways of providing care are essential.
To help its 10,000 members, the British Dietetic Association is taking the next step in its digital strategy to tackle this challenge. The BDA, Professional body and Trade Union for UK Dietitians, is working with the Organisation for the Review of Health and Care Apps (ORCHA), to produce a library of evaluated health apps.
The Association is also offering its members the opportunity to have apps evaluated by ORCHA. Should they, or their client, use an app that is not featured in the library, BDA will work with ORCHA to ensure that those apps undergo a rigorous review. The apps will be tested against 260 criteria, covering clinical effectiveness, data security and usability. This independent assessment will ensure dietetic app choices are fully informed.
Helping identify trustworthy resources
Health apps offer easy, engaging and accessible ways to help clients better track symptoms or self-manage, at home. There are specialised apps across a range of conditions, such as diabetes, IBS, eating disorders and obesity.
With thousands of apps available, it can be hard to find the right one. Type ‘diet’ into Google play store and you’ll get over 1.6 million results, and not all of them are safe, secure or easy to use. The vast majority should be used with caution or avoided completely as they can cause harm. For example:
- 2/3 of mental health apps fall below quality thresholds.
- Only 28% of weight loss apps meet standards.
The library contains a comprehensive list of several thousand health-related apps – all of which can be searched by condition, intended use, and patient type. Also, all apps in the library have been objectively reviewed and rated, so members can make the best recommendations for their patients. The system provides a full report about the levels of clinical assurance, data privacy and user experience for each app listed.
Najia Qureshi, BDA’s Director of Education, Practice and Policy said: “Apps have the power to transform dietetic services, increasing engagement levels with patients and helping them to better stick to their personalised plan. Our library will help members harness this opportunity safely, by including only tested apps in their practice. Using this tool, we can unlock the power of Digital Health.”