With the launch of many innovative healthcare apps we are now looking even further into the importance of compliance within technology. From booking appointments online, to the NHS app that stores your repeat prescriptions, it is so much easier to gain access to your medical information and stay on top of your health.
The shift in technology has brought many great advances for healthcare, such as the innovative ‘Summary Care Records’, however with more and more patients using healthcare apps and/or online services with their GP this does come with patient safety concerns about how easily accessible this information is. As an indicator of this, the NHS has created a ‘Healthy Apps Library’ which includes various mobile apps that patients can access.
Apps have been separated into categories to make the regulation of products easier to control. An example of this is highlighting some products as medical devices e.g. an in vitro medical device (mobile app) that monitors your blood pressure. This makes it much easier for patients and app creators alike to understand the restrictions and regulations put in place to keep patients safe. A medical device is determined as:
“any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, together with any accessories, including the software intended by its manufacturer to be used specifically for diagnosis or therapeutic purposes or both and necessary for its proper application, which:
a) is intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings for the purpose of:
i) diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,
ii) diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or handicap,
iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process, or
iv) control of conception; and
b) does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, even if it is assisted in its function by such means”
The nuanced nature of healthcare apps naturally can be a cause for concern for patients and healthcare professionals, but with legislations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and NHS guidelines, this is monitored appropriately.
The GDPR came into effect in 2018, changing the way that personal data is handled. Stricter guidelines have been put in place for the entire process of collecting, organising, and storing information, to ensure that patients are safe.
Silicon Practice presents Footfall as a healthcare solution: a digital practice that is put in place for patients and general practice to create a seamless process from top to bottom. By using FootFall, practices can accelerate their productivity by encouraging patients to do more online; whether that is from asking the practice a question to accessing national or local support. Patients themselves gain the ability through FootFall to get the answers they need without having to take time out of their day to book and attend appointments unnecessarily.
Silicon Practice is governed under the same regulations as any healthcare app or service, and we work with our Compliance Officer and Clinical Safety Officer extensively to ensure patient information is kept secure.
The takeaway message here is that regardless of the app, device, or service your GP practice is using, there are strict regulations in place that are forever evolving and strengthening. Health apps are the future of our healthcare system and work effectively to enhance practice workload balance, patient satisfaction, and a patients control over their own care.
Written by Sophie Norman