NHS invests in apps to manage chronic conditions

Heavy investment is being channelled into the technological advancement of the NHS and, in particular, apps for the management of chronic conditions.

Chronic (or long-term) conditions including COPD, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease affect 15.4 million people and absorb 70 per cent of the NHS budget, according to NHS England figures. This is where apps such as myCOPD – a complete online self-management solution for patients with COPD – are helping to make a significant difference to not only patients but healthcare professionals too.

The myCOPD app provides an interface where patients can assess and track their symptoms, keep an inhaler diary, learn correct inhaler technique as well as having access to further information about the condition. This information is shared with their GP and consultant, who in turn can keep tabs on whether they’re struggling and might need to have an appointment.

Prior to using myCOPD, 90 per cent of patients were not able to use their inhalers properly. After three months with no clinical interaction the patients were re-evaluated and 98 per cent were able to use their inhalers properly with no clinical errors.

Treatment of COPD alone costs the NHS more than £800 million each year, compared to the myCOPD app costing just £20 per patient. The app is now used by 1,700 patients in 22 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) throughout the UK. The Department of Health estimates that the app will save each CCG between £200,000 to £300,000 in the first year alone.

Apps for managing diabetes and asthma were released in October, and another for heart failure will follow in spring 2017.

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