NHSX launches criteria to streamline assessment of digital health tools

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NHSX has launched an assessment criteria to make it easier for NHS and social care organisations to select technologies for patients.

The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) applies to all types of digital health technologies, from public facing health apps to hospital systems such as electronic patient records.

It will guide local and national NHS organisations and social care teams in deciding which health technologies they should be buying or recommending to patients.

Based on feedback from more than 800 stakeholders, DTAC brings together legislation and best practice in five areas, and tools will receive a pass or fail in four categories – clinical safety, data protection, technical security and interoperability.

They will also be scored on usability and accessibility.

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said: “Digital health technologies are used throughout the NHS, and increasingly in social care, to improve patients’ experiences, increase access to services and reduce the burden on staff.

“The new assessment process will identify the digital tools that meet NHS standards on clinical safety, cyber security and data protection from amongst the thousands available in the market, and do it more quickly than before.”

DTAC is already being used by trusts and systems as they create products to provide video consultations in secondary care over the coming year.

Their chosen suppliers must be DTAC assessed if they are to qualify for national funding available to support embedding and spreading of video consultations in secondary care settings.

NHSX is now working to ensure DTAC is used across the NHS and becomes the default criteria against which all digital health technologies that are being considered for use are assessed against.

Rhod Joyce, deputy director of innovation development at NHSX, added: “We want to support the adoption and scale of good, safe health technologies for those buying health tech within the system, which will ultimately help NHS patients across the country.

“Through DTAC we are clearly setting out from the very start the criteria innovators need to meet for their products to be used by the NHS.

“It will also empower local NHS and social care organisations to assure themselves that the tools they plan to use meet national standards.”

Tim Andrews, chief operating officer of health apps evaluation company ORCHA, added: “Covid-19 has marked a turning point in the use of health apps and we’ve seen the numbers downloaded from our ORCHA app libraries rise exponentially.

“It’s never been more vital for health professionals to know, with absolute certainty, that the apps they are using and recommending are of the required standard.  The new DTAC sets out a clear, standards-based approach which allows hospital trusts and CCGs to take control.”

ORCHA’s review of health apps will cover the criteria set out in the DTAC.

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