Two NHS Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are piloting a new digital health toolkit on elective care which aims to support healthcare workers and tackle the backlog.

Our Dorset and the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership ICSs will be trialling the toolkit, which has been curated by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA).

The toolkit will be offered to all ORCHA customers for free and focuses on digital solutions that are aligned to the main NHS backlog priorities: ophthalmology, musculoskeletal conditions, cardiology and dermatology.

The toolkit’s approach is to offer guidance on the best technology solutions available, as opposed to just recommending a single solution for each pathway. This enables users to find the most appropriate solution, all approved by ORCHA.

Crystal Dennis, head of digital services at home with Our Dorset ICS, said: “Working with a toolkit like this is an excellent way forward for us. It helps focus out busy clinicians on just the apps they need – along with the assurance that they have been purposely selected by their peers and undergone an evaluation process to demonstrate that the tools are fit for purpose/DTAC-approve – and sets the patient up for success.”

According to ORCHA – an independent digital health evaluation and distribution organisation – the rationale behind the toolkit isn’t about providing staff with more technology, but finding the right technology that can support their existing pathways.

Dr Lloyd Humphreys, ORCHA’s managing director, said: “Technology needs to have a ‘force multiplier’ effect for the NHS in the wake of staff shortages, where it complements, enhances and supports health and care workers and helps patients at each stage of their treatment journey.”

The technologies covered within the elective care toolkit for Dorset and Lancashire are quick to deploy and deliver real impact. They include an app which could save an estimated 1.7million hours of nursing time if deployed for use in eye services; an app that reduces the need for pre-op assessment appointments within musculoskeletal services by 60%; and a cardiology care app which could reduce the number of patients dropping out of rehabilitation by over 50%.

Linda Vernon, digital culture and transformation clinical lead at Lancashire & South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, added: “We are trialling ORCHA’s elective care toolkit because we want to be absolutely sure that our teams have access to the very best digital tools to help them transform the delivery of the many high-volume and low-complexity tasks associated with supporting patients through some of our elective pathways.”

This latest announcement by ORCHA follows the news at the start of the year where it partnered with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to launch a health and wellbeing app library for its patients.