Public Health England

Public Health England (PHE) protects and improves the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduces health inequalities. As part of Workstream 2 of the National Information Board (NIB), PHE commissioned IE GDS to design and build a ‘kitemark’ system to drive up healthcare professional confidence in apps. Project stakeholders include MHRA, HSCIC (NHS Digital), NHS England and NICE.


Agile approach utilising a single location, multi-disciplinary team
The project follows Government Digital Service (GDS) Design Principles
Stage 1 (of a multi-stage project) Discovery, Alpha and Beta complete

The challenge

Despite a clearly articulated and adequately funded digital healthcare strategy – the NHS has thus far largely failed to win the confidence of healthcare professionals in a new generation of digital tools that promise to deliver health benefits and financial savings across health economies.

A pragmatic digital healthcare strategy must engage not only with supply (of high quality apps) and demand (patient needs), but with the key agents of change – healthcare professionals. In terms of supply, there are well over 100,000 mobile apps that claim to offer benefit to personal health and wellbeing. On the demand side the public is largely eager and willing to embrace these new technologies. Between supply and demand stand healthcare professionals, understandably cautious about recommending and endorsing specific apps for lack of confidence in their ability to differentiate between highly effective, clinically proven apps – and the countless others.

The solution

IE GDS has been working alongside PHE to put an NHS ‘kitemark’ in place for endorsing healthcare apps. PHE commissioned IE GDS’s single location, multi-disciplinary team through the G-Cloud government procurement framework and the project follows Government Digital Service (GDS) Design Principles.

The purpose of the new system is to clearly identify apps that are beneficial to public health and the healthcare system and these will be given a ‘quality stamp’, freeing healthcare professionals to recommend them to patients with confidence.

The first stage of work enables developers to submit apps for consideration: a detailed questioning and scoring approach enables peer reviewers to focus on the very best submissions and provides feedback to developers to help them improve their product and enable it to be considered in the future.

IE GDS has successfully completed the Discovery, Alpha and Beta phases of Stage 1. Work is ongoing and has included to date:

  • Digital consultancy and systems analysis to model how the kitemarking process might work
  • Co-creation workshops with key stakeholders including MHRA, HSCIC, NHS England & NICE
  • Peer review process design including online self-assessment forms for completion by app developers
  • Web-based demo system used at conferences to gain industry feedback
  • Rapid prototyping and user testing sessions to obtain feedback on the workflow, signposting and messaging aspects of the system
  • Completion of the Beta service for the self-assessment stage of the process.

Next steps

IE GDS is currently working on the initial Alpha phase for the next stage, where the ‘expert community’ is engaged to validate and challenge apps that have passed the self-assessment process.