British doctors may soon prescribe apps to patients

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In the UK, the Department of Health plans to ask doctors in the country to encourage their patients to rely on mobile apps to track biometrics and symptoms for a range of health issues, from pregnancy to diabetes -- all in hopes of trimming back unnecessary medical visits.

According to a release last week, the Department of Health claims that some 15,000 NHS patients are already using mobile health apps that transmit data to their physicians.

The Department of Health hopes to save the NHS "millions of pounds," while the agency also insists that more frequent monitoring will help providers keep better tabs on their patients' chronic conditions.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the health minister claims that about 25 percent of the people who use the NHS Choices website and app visit their physicians less frequently as a result. Last year the NHS Direct app announced more than 1 million downloads.

"So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch," the UK Department of Health's Secretary Andrew Lansley said in a statement. "I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm. With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat."

Lansley assembled a list of 500 apps and tools that the NHS plans to recommend physicians prescribe to patients, but the NHS is hoping for feedback from the UK public on which apps they think should be included. Parameters? That the app be free or cheap to use, according to the report in The Telegraph.

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