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Only 15% of healthcare apps meet minimum safety standards, says leading Liverpool City Region tech business

Research by ORCHA, the world’s leading health app evaluation and advisor organisation, has revealed that only 15% of healthcare apps available for download meet minimum standards set by their review process.

ORCHA monitor and evaluate healthcare apps available online, looking at 260 factors of individual apps covering performance and compliance, including clinical effectiveness, user experience, and data security, to give them a score. The score can then be used by governments and health and social care organisations to choose and deliver health apps that safely make the biggest impact in terms of improving clinical outcomes.

Their evaluation of over 5,000 health apps has revealed that a significant number of healthcare apps available to download do not meet the minimum safety requirements. Notably, 75% of apps aimed at people with blood pressure concerns, and 85% of femtech and pregnancy apps, do not meet ORCHA’s quality threshold.

How Orcha is improving digital health apps across the globe

ORCHA, which was founded in 2015 and is based in Sci-Tech Daresbury, is one of LCR’s fastest-growing tech businesses, providing services for health organisations in five countries. Their recent growth, facilitated by the Local Growth Hub, has meant that they have grown from 7 employees to over 30 and have newly opened offices in both London and Utrecht, Holland.

Further support from the Local Growth Hub through the Health Innovation Exchange, has seen ORCHA awarded €30K following a successful application to The European Bridgehead programme. The business is now pushing into new territories including the Netherlands, and more recently, the Local Growth Hub and Health Innovation Exchange have assisted ORCHA in implementing a Sustainability and Transformation Plan with Cheshire and Merseyside hospitals.

Speaking on how the business aims to stop the prevalence of harmful health apps across the globe, CEO of ORCHA Liz Ashall-Payne, said, “We believe that digital health apps are one of the most important tools available to help tackle health issues in an aging population that’s facing more complex, long-term problems. Our goal is to support the organisations that look after us to empower them with information about which apps can create a difference. The fact that only 15% of apps that we review meet the minimum standards show there is a desperate need to regularly and properly assess the apps available to ensure that people are protected against the serious risks associated with downloading ineffective or even harmful apps.

“To help us in this mission, we’re working with organisations like the Local Growth Hub and Sci-Tech Daresbury to help us reach more and more businesses in Liverpool City Region and beyond. We recently undertook the New Markets 2 ERDF programme, which is aimed at supporting Liverpool City Region SMEs grow. As result of the work we’ve done with our growth partners, we’re supporting an increasing number of organisations and are now operating internationally.”

Janice Mears, Head of Business Growth at Growth Platform’s Local Growth Hub, said, “ORCHA is a prime example of what the growing and innovative businesses in the Liverpool City Region can achieve with the right support. We’re very proud to have contributed to ORCHA’s growth and success through the new markets programme and to have supported them in their mission of making the digital health apps market a safer place.”

You can see a video case study of ORCHA that can be embedded in articles here.

Businesses can access the Local Growth Hub services at localgrowthhub.com, InvestSefton is the Local Growth Hub for Sefton.