Fitness apps to be promoted through the NHS
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Fitness apps to be promoted through the NHS

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The Department of Health has launched a “framework for action” to improve the nation’s activity levels through the use of digital technology.

In its Personalised Health and Care 2020 mission statement, the department’s National Information Board has set out a bold vision for how technology should work harder and better for patients by 2020. This will include promoting the use of smartphone apps approved by the NHS to patients who could benefit from taking control of their own activity regime.

NHS England’s national director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, said: “We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and take more control.” He went on to detail how, starting in 2015, NHS ‘kitemarks’ will be used for apps which meet specific standards, meaning app developers could “take advantage of the trust people have in the NHS brand”.

“Being smarter with data and technology has the potential to make a world of difference to patients, while ensuring best value for the taxpayer,” said chief nursing officer for England, Jane Cummings. “Aside from the clear benefits for patient care, better use of technology will help create a more efficient NHS.”

The health service already supports NHS Choices, an app store launched in 2013, which is regularly reviewed to ensure clinical safety. The library was set up by the NHS Commissioning Board in collaboration with Creative England - a national agency that invests in digital media. Of the 500 or so apps currently promoted by the library, 16 are fitness related and include a yogic breathing trainer which allows users to calculate their heat rate by putting a fingertip on the rear camera lens, and the ukactive-run app Spogo, which brings together 90,000 sports and leisure clubs, personal trainers and events in a directory style format.

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