Code of Practice for wellness apps published

05 May 2015

BSI, the business standards company has developed PAS 277 Health and wellness apps – Quality criteria across the life cycle – Code of practice in conjunction with Innovate UK. The new guidance stems from the research and strategy report – A Framework for standards to support innovation in Long Term Care, which was published by BSI in September 2014.

As populations age, those within our communities who are living with debilitating conditions (and their carers) face new challenges in their everyday lives. To meet this need and be at the forefront of innovation, work is being championed to revolutionize long term care. More specifically, it identifies where standards can support the revolution of radical new ways of delivering solutions to long term care. As part of this, PAS 277 was developed for the governance and life cycle of healthcare apps, so that developers can ensure their products are of a high quality and fit for purpose. 

PAS 277 will allow app developers to come up with innovative ways of providing solutions that can be adopted by healthcare professionals and the public. Additionally, it will help to support a change in how healthcare is delivered in the future.

The purpose of this PAS is to develop a set of principles that health app developers should follow, in order to ensure that their products and services can be trusted by healthcare professionals and the public. By developing health apps that are of a high quality, and are fit-for-purpose, health care professionals will develop a growing confidence in their benefit, which will increase usage. The public will be able to use health and wellness apps to proactively manage their healthcare needs, and use their own data and personal information to access the products, services and interventions they need. This assurance and increased usage should allow app developers to be properly reimbursed so that they can continuously monitor and improve their apps to ensure that they remain current.

What PAS 277 does:

  • Gives recommendations for quality criteria of health and wellness apps, intended to meet the needs of healthcare professionals, patients, carers and the wider public
  • Covers the full app project life cycle, including development, testing, releasing and updating of an app, including clinical, native, hybrid and web-based apps. It addresses fitness for purpose and the monitoring of usage
  • Informs the development of health and wellness apps intended for internal use as well as those that are placed in the market, including free of charge

PAS 277 does not cover the process or criteria used to establish whether a health and wellness app is subject to regulatory control (e.g. such as a medical device, or related to information governance).

Anne Hayes Head of Market Development for Governance at BSI said: “There is huge scope for advancement in the area of wellness innovation, and we are thrilled to be pioneering work in the healthcare arena. It is therefore also our responsibility to safeguard the consumer and healthcare professional by governing the apps that are developed in the future. We can only do that by arming app developers with guidance such as PAS 277.”

PAS 277 will be of use to app developers and publishers, health care professionals and general users of mobile apps; and was developed using a consensus-based approach involving experts from across the industry. Some of the organizations involved include: Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), BT, BUPA, Caton Bell Limited, Digital Health & Care Alliance, Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), INPUT Patient Advocacy, INPS, NHS England, NIHR Mindtech Healthcare Technology Cooperative, Omron Healthcare, Royal College of Physicians and South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN).