This month’s mobile apps round-up features news about a trial of the revamped NHS contact-tracing app and NHS Tayside launching an app for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

England’s contact-tracing app begins second trial

England’s new look NHS contact-tracing app began public trials on Thursday, after months of setbacks.

The app will be based on Apple and Google’s decentralised model. NHSX has been working with the tech giants to develop a new version of the app after abandoning its original model in June.

Both versions of the app used Bluetooth to track time and distance between smartphone devices, but Apple and Google’s version was hailed as more privacy-centric as it only sends alerts between devices when Covid-19 is detected, rather than large quantities of data being stored on a central database.

The trial, beginning on August 13, will again involve the Isle of Wight as well as NHS volunteer respondents in the UK. Then from next week, residents in the London borough of Newham will start trialing the app.

Dido Harding, executive chair of the NHS Test and Trace programme, said: “By launching an app that supports our integrated, localised approach to NHS Test and Trace, anyone with a smartphone will be able to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus, quickly and easily order a test, and access the right guidance and advice.

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling coronavirus. The app is a great step forward and will complement all of the work we are doing with local areas across the country to reach more people in their communities and work towards our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk.”

For a more in-depth look at the contact-tracing app and what went wrong take a look at our timeline of events here.

NHS Tayside launches app for people suffering from IBS

People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are set to benefit from a new app launched by NHS Tayside, in partnership with Inhealthcare.

NHS Tayside is implementing the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Pathway from the Scottish Government’s new Modernising Patient Pathways Programme.

Those diagnosed with the condition will be able to access trusted information at any time to help them understand and manage their condition.

It helps people to track their symptoms over time and identify any changes. They can request extra support from dietitians via the app as and when needed.

Jacqueline Walker, Tayside nutrition managed clinical network programme manager, said: “IBS is a complex condition with many contributing factors, which can include diet, stress and anxiety.

“We launched this service with Inhealthcare to strengthen self-management, deliver care closer to home and speed up access to clinicians for those with the greatest need.”

Nicola Hutchinson, advanced practice dietitian and project lead said, “We are hoping that our patients see the benefits of this new app very quickly.

“It is important to provide trusted evidenced-based advice to people as there is a lot of misinformation about IBS on the internet.”

The new app has been funded by the Scottish Government’s technology enabled care programme and the Modernising patient pathways programme.

Use of care app doubles during pandemic

The number of care settings using Log my Care has doubled since the start of the year as care teams look to technology to help manage their care planning and admin as well as the challenges of the pandemic, the company has said.

Log my Care’s app-based planning software enables care managers and carers to plan, record and co-ordinate care online, with all care tasks as well as details of service-users and staff stored securely in the cloud.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Log my Care developed a Covid-19 symptom tracking and track-and-trace tools specifically for care settings, which are free to all users.

The tracking tool is designed specifically for care services to help monitor and detect early symptoms, alerting care managers and displaying critical information on a simple dashboard.

Carers use the app to monitor breathing rate, temperature and other symptoms of the virus.

The care management system also shows which carers have been in contact with which service-users. In the event of an infection, a care manager can rapidly identify and trace contacts between staff and clients in their service, helping to identify and alert those most at risk.

Sam Hussain, founder of Log my Care, said: “Over the past few months, more care settings have contacted us as the need to streamline admin and access data remotely has become even more apparent.

As care homes transition to going online, it is also clear that identifying Covid-19 cases early and reacting quickly is crucial in preventing further outbreaks, so we wanted to build tools that will help care settings do that at the earliest opportunity.

“Over the longer term, we want to support social care as it adapts to a changing world. Videoconferencing is an example of that change.

“Prior to Covid-19, we were already using it to help train any care staff that needed a bit of extra support. Whereas previously there was some reluctance, we are now finding care staff ready and adept in working that way.”

New app to support cancer patients during treatment launched in North East

A new app with content developed by staff at an NHS Trust in the North East aims to support patients during and following cancer treatment.

The app, My Wellbeing Space, is a free digital service from NHS partnership Health Call and technology provider Inhealthcare and funded by the Northern Cancer Alliance.

It will initially benefit patients receiving care from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. The content was developed by the Macmillan project team in collaboration with clinical teams and involving patients at all stages of its design and testing.

Clare Doney, Macmillan lead cancer nurse, said: “Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event affecting patients, families and friends emotionally as well as physically.

“We want to provide holistic support as soon as possible and the app is one way that we can reach out to more people. It gives our patients tools and resources to support and empower them to contribute to their wellbeing and overall health.”

The app offers support at all stages of treatment, providing advice and links including content on physical activity; late effects of treatment; food and nutrition; financial concerns; fatigue; emotional wellbeing; and treatments.

It also includes short video clips delivered by a consultant, clinical nurse specialist, wellbeing practitioners, GP, oncologist, a patient and carer.

Health Call plans to share the app more widely through Trusts across the North East and North Cumbria.