Report suggests supported self-care may improve patient outcomes

A GP surgery in Bristol managed to reduce the number of visits and phone calls to the practice and improve patient activation levels for patients enrolled in a self-care project. The eight-month Champion Project involved 93 patients and was run by the social enterprise Bristol Community Health, in partnership with Philips Healthcare and The Lennard Surgery, and was funded by the West of England Academic Health Science Network. Different technologies were offered to patients, to enable them to learn more about their condition and/or submit vital readings in their own home. All three levels of service were connected to a clinical hub, enabling staff to monitor readings and provide further support as required. After one year, GP practice contacts were reduced by a third for all acuity levels and patient activation levels increased from 38% to 56%.

New online GP service treats minor illnesses 

A group of UK doctors has designed an online GP service for more than 20 minor illnesses called i-GP. Patients access the system via the web and completes an online assessment. If they can be treated they pay £10 and receive a treatment plan within an hour if not, they are given advice such as to see their GP or visit A&E. Its developers say the care provided is based on all the questions a person’s own GP would ask in the clinic.

Diabetes management top therapy field for app developers

Patients with chronic conditions remain the primary target group for mHealth app publishers, with diabetes management app solutions still the number one therapy field preference for developers. Research2guidance’s ‘mHealth App Developer Economics Survey 2015’, is the largest annual study into current and future trends in the mHealth market. Its latest research shows 70% of mHealth practitioners rate diabetes highest for its market potential over the next five years and 38% rate obesity folllowed by; hypertension on 29%; depression on 23% and chronic heart diseases at 16%.

New app for people in crisis

A new ‘friendship’ app designed to help people in a crisis is being developed by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University. The software, called Rescue Station, is aimed at helping those at risk of suicide. It allows users to pre-arrange face-to-face support based on a traffic light system. Red signifies an urgent need for help and green means ‘I’m ok.’ The app’s makers say this support is unique as it facilitates support from family and friends, in contrast to many other NHS apps, which only connect the user to information. Development of the app will be taken further through testing, interviews and observation on the target user group.

Dr Now completes first international medical diagnosis and consultation of patient while flying

Now Healthcare Group has delivered a GP consultation from 35,000 feet using its smartphone-based video technology. A business flyer from the UK was connected to a doctor back home whilst on a long-haul Emirates A380 flight from London Heathrow to Dubai and medication he had forgotten was prescribed and delivered to his hotel room. Another patient used the Dr Now app while on holiday in New York when he began to feel unwell. He connected to his UK-based GP via video call, managing to avoid US medical costs.

New diet consultation smartphone app

The British Dietetic Association has launched a smartphone app called BDA Coaching Suite to support more patients to access dietitians through secure online client consultations and communication. The association is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 8,500 members. The app can be offered to enhance face-to-face meetings if the patient and practitioner agree it’s appropriate for them. The patient takes photos of all foods and drinks consumed, as well as logging physical activity, and receives regular personal feedback, tips and coaching from the dietitian.

Two pregnancy apps launch in UK

Pregnancy health app Bonzun has launched in the UK after seeing 800,000 downloads from Chinese women and families. The app, founded by a female Swedish entrepreneur, has a symptom checker and health test tracker function for pregnant women to better monitor their health. More than a third of its users are active with nearly 20% using it daily.

The Doula app is described as a “labor coach”, to help women with their breathing and the whole childbirth experience. It includes a playlist of soothing music, a contraction timer with a graph and a breathing assistance button.  Launched in the Netherlands at the beginning of 2014, for iPhone users it is now available on Android and  in English.