England funds mental health app effort to transform national services

The U.K.'s National Health Service is launching an mHealth app initiative to provide citizens with personalized care and to spur a transformation of national healthcare services.

Easy-to-use apps could drive proactive self-health efforts among patients and help with issues ranging from smoking to diabetes management to mental health ailments, according to British Life Sciences Minister George Freeman.

"We need to transform healthcare in the NHS from a 20th century model in which health is something done to you, to a 21st century world in which we empower people to take more responsibility over their own health and life choices," Freeman said at a recent NHS Innovation Expo, according to a Press Association report published at Yahoo News. "Nearly 6.5 million patients can already book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online and three million patients are registered for online access to GP records. But we need to continue to encourage patients to use new technologies to better manage their health, care and treatment."

Government health leaders in the U.K. are calling on developers to apply for new funding to develop mental health apps. A program is starting this month and will produce mobile tools consumers will know have been deemed effective and safe for use, according to the report.

In the U.S. an expanding number of mHealth app developers have been focusing on mental health issues, with more than a few targeting the post-military service population. As FierceMobileHealthcare reported last month, early suicide prevention, especially in people who suffer from psychiatric illnesses, may soon be faster and easier through a new mobile healthcare app being developed by Indiana University School of Medicine.

What's more, a Northwestern University study published in July reported that excessive smartphone use, measured by sensor data and geopresence technologies, may be the next big indicator of depression.

The U.K.'s NHS believes its mHealth app model will prove to be cost-effective for the country's healthcare system.

"The NHS must be efficient in what it does and maximize the potential that technology and data has to offer better value for the taxpayer," Freeman said. "By improving the NHS IT systems we've already seen savings of around 21 million pounds in one year, which is great news for everyone as it gives staff more time to be able to provide the first rate care for patients."

For more information:
- read the Press Association article