A new app which was created at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is helping patients with vascular disease access vital exercise therapy. 

The Walk-A-Cise smartphone app, which was created professor Philip Stather – a vascular consultant at Norfolk and Norwich -, uses GPS technology and monitors the walking distance of patients. These distances can then be monitored over time to encourage users to walk further, and it has the ability to link in with clinicians. 

The app means patients can access exercise therapy at a time convenient to them. Plus, it supports patients to carry out gentle exercise at home reducing the need for them to travel to an exercise group and the associated costs. 

Professor Stather said: “Patients with peripheral arterial disease experience cramps when they walk and the first treatment for them is exercise therapy. However, nationally only 40% of hospitals have an exercise programme and only 25% of patients attend.” 

The app is currently in use at Norfolk and Norwich, Cambridge University Hospitals and Colchester Hospital.  

Funding worth £14,000 from UEA Health and Social Care Partners has been awarded and will help to extend its use in the region. Thanks to this funding, the app will be rolled out to partner organisations including James Paget University Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, Ipswich Hospital, West Suffolk Hospital, Peterborough Hospital and Basildon University Hospital.  

In addition, the app is set to undergo further developments to enhance its capabilities. Innovate UK has provided £50,000 of funding which will help develop six-minute walk tests, the use of the app as a communication tool, and the facility to take part in exercise class videos.  

Professor Stather, said: “At the moment the data and the app is very basic and over the next 12 months we will be increasing the number of hospitals using the app and doing the next stage of development and at that point we can start to make an income from it and do clinical trials to compare it with standard access to treatment.” 

The announcement of the new app comes just weeks after Digital Health reported on how Norfolk and Norwich is using virtual reality to improve clinicians understanding of living with dementia.