A new digital portal to help streamline and improve the process for developers seeking to have their app included on the NHS Apps Library has been launched.

The portal, which went live on 20 May, is currently in public beta stage before going fully live in September 2019.

It will also be the tool through which approved assessors will scrutinize apps before they’re made publicly available through the NHS library.

It’s the first time a fully digital end-to-end process has been available.

Ian Phoenix, director of citizen technology at NHS Digital, said: “Health and care is one of the fastest growing segments in the apps market, with literally hundreds of thousands of apps available in smartphone apps stores.

“It is therefore no surprise that there is high demand among developers to have their apps considered for inclusion [on the NHS App Library] and the launch of this digital portal should help accelerate that process to give patients the options of more apps, improving their ability to look after their own health and wellbeing.

“This is about streamlining the process, but apps will still need to meet the same rigorous NHS standards to pass the assessment to appear on the library.”

There are currently more than 70 apps listed on the NHS Apps Library across a wide range of purposes, including mental health, maternity, diabetes, sleep and healthy lifestyles.

The NHS criteria that apps need to pass remain unchanged in the digital assessment questionnaire. Apps are assessed against nine categories, including clinical safety, data security and user accessibility.

NHS Digital enlisted the help of ORCHA in September last year, to speed up the number of clinically-approved tools available on the NHS Apps Library.

The third-party app evaluator uses a combination of manual and automated assessment processes to scour mobile app marketplaces for applications that can be safely used within clinical settings.

Speaking about the new portal, Liz Ashall-Payne, cheif executive of ORCHA, said: “As an approved assessor working closely with NHS Digital to review apps, we welcome this move. It provides developers with a digital front door into the NHS Digital review process and feeds well into the reviews we then conduct.

“It is a great first step in streamlining the whole journey for app developers.”