Prompted by the rapid expansion of the digital health sector, the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) has created two tailored products – including the country’s first Digital Health Formulary to ensure safe digital prescribing for clinicians.

The ORCHA Digital Health Formulary allows healthcare professionals to safely prescribe more complex apps to their patients. Trusts who sign up for the platform will work with ORCHA to create a bespoke Digital Health Formulary to meet their needs.

It can be integrated into existing patient records systems, such as Cerner or Epic dashboards. Designed to be a single source solution, clinicians can find health apps that have been pre-selected and vetted by professionals and confidently recommend them to patients.

The launch follows on from last year’s ORCHA study that found that the majority of physicians believe digital health intervention is helpful to patient care management.

With the new formulary, recommendations for health apps are sent to patients via secure text or email. In addition, healthcare providers are able to maintain an overview, to monitor how many apps are being prescribed and whether they’re being downloaded and used by the patient.

Tom Micklewright, ORCHA medical director, said: “We want to get safe digital health to those who need it as safely and quickly as possible, so we’ve designed the libraries with usability and accessibility. They’re modern, responsive and mobile first.”

The formulary stands separately from the ORCHA Health App Libraries which are designed to meet the needs of the general population. It supports patients to download over-the-counter health apps that don’t require medical oversight.

ORCHA will develop easy-to-use app libraries for patients, in partnership with healthcare providers. The app libraries are structured on simple, prebuilt layouts, and can be presented in several languages and configurations to support health strategies and health priorities for each healthcare provider.

They can be accessed within the geographical territory of the healthcare providers, helping ensure that all regulations for that territory area are met safely and that data governance and residency requirements are met.

Crucially, only apps that are consumer-friendly and require no input from healthcare professionals will be approved by ORCHA for these libraries.