So far six apps and devices have been approved for the library, and more will follow.
Each app and device first goes through a rigorous independent review process used by Our Mobile Health to identify trustworthy digital health tools, before going into ‘real-life testing’ by people living with Parkinson’s, a condition that affects 145,000 people in the UK.
Our Mobile Health sourced the apps from developers and reviewed them against their rigorous quality assurance process, which identifies the ‘best of the best’ apps by reviewing them against ten key attribute areas. An independent panel of expert reviewers looks at apps across a range of areas including patient safety, data security and indicators of effectiveness. Only apps which meet the high standards required are put forward to the charity for real-life testing.
Julie Bretland, Chief Executive of Our Mobile Health, said: “It is fantastic that digital health is being embraced in this way, to help those living with and managing lifelong conditions to be able to identify and embrace digital health interventions which they can have confidence in using.
“We are proud to have been able to work so closely with Parkinson's UK on this new initiative. Using our rigorous independent health app review process we have been able to help identify potentially suitable health apps, thoroughly review them and identify those which can then be taken forward.
“The user testing and feedback from those living with Parkinson's has been invaluable as it has helped to further improve the quality of apps and digital health solutions targeted at those living with Parkinson's.”
All the tools featured in the library are designed to help people with Parkinson’s with everyday life. Parkinson’s can affect the voice – leaving some people barely audible - so the library features an app that records volume, pitch and speed of speech, with the results easily shareable with health professionals.
The library also features an app called Swallow Prompt to help prevent drooling, something many people with Parkinson’s can face due to difficulties with swallowing.
People can now also try recommended and reviewed apps to help them get some rest, as difficulty sleeping is a common problem for many living with Parkinson’s.
‘Tried and Tested’ is being spearheaded at Parkinson’s UK by Emma Lawton who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 29. With her determined attitude to living well with Parkinson’s, Emma is always looking for new solutions and technology to help her live life to the full including taking part in the BBC’s Big Life Fix where technology experts invented a device that enabled her to draw again for the first time in years.
Emma, Project Lead for Apps and Devices at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Parkinson’s symptoms can make everyday tasks like getting dressed or making a cup of tea feel impossible, and that’s where technology has a massive role to play.
“Parkinson’s UK’s helpline was increasingly being asked whether apps and devices, that people had seen or heard about, could help with their symptoms.
“We wanted to provide consistent advice on this area with real conviction, as Parkinson’s UK should have a strong voice in this rapidly growing area. That’s why we created the library, to help provide the right advice and guide people to apps and devices that are safe and effective to use.”
The charity and Our Mobile Health now plan to grow the library, both by reviewing existing apps and devices but also by encouraging new designs from developers.
Julie Dodd, Director of Digital Transformation and Communication at Parkinson’s UK added: “With more than 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s and no new treatments for more than 50 years, there are still gaps in Parkinson’s treatment that we know technology can help us to address.
“Ultimately we want to see people being referred to the library alongside their medication. And we hope that other charities will follow, to create a network of libraries that can benefit people living with many different conditions.
“We are incredibly excited about the potential of technology to transform the lives of people living with long-term conditions like Parkinson’s and we are committed to leading the way to make this happen.”
If you have an app or device that you think would be suitable for this new library, please contact Our Mobile Health to discuss: e-mail Matt.Wilkinson@ourmobilehealth.com
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