Patients told to use apps to check health

by Natalie Hammond

Woman on phone REX

GPs will be asked to recommend mobile phone apps to encourage patients to monitor their own health instead of visiting a doctor or nurse, the Government has announced.

The Department of Health is hoping the scheme will save the NHS millions of pounds, which are currently being spent on unnecessary visits to GPs or hospitals.

Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, has compiled a list of almost 500 tools, which he hopes will give patients more control over their health whilst reducing visits to doctors.

Among the apps available is a genious tool for food allergy sufferers that scans bar codes on products to check for certain ingredients.

Cancer sufferers, pregnant women and those suffering from diabetes, lung problems and heart disease will be encouraged to take daily recordings and text them into a central computer system for analysis. They will then be sent a reply advising them what steps to take.

‘I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm,’ says Andrew Lansley. ‘With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat.’

Not everyone, however, agrees with the Health Secretary. Campaigners say it would be a ‘big mistake’ to force all patients to use this technology.

According to Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, ‘these apps will help provide patients with more information and give the greater control over their own care. But they will not be right for everyone, particularly elderly patients who may struggle with the technology.’

She argued that other systems must be developed to ensure patients unable to use the technology receive proper care.

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