BAPRAS helps launch first app to be registered as a medical device by the MHRA
A new Smartphone app - Mersey Burns - developed by Professor Paul McArthur and Mr Rowan Pritchard Jones, members of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), has been released on to the market in what represents a first in the UK - the app has been registered with the MHRA as a Class I medical device as per the EU Medical Device Directive.
To coincide with this and to encourage similar professional standards in the launch of other health apps, healthcare communications charity d4 has published a new guidance document to help draw further attention to the issue of health app regulation and to provide practical guidance to both users and manufacturers of apps for the healthcare market.
Health professionals make considerable use of mobile phones during their working day, as do their patients. As the popularity of running software applications on mobile devices continues to increase, it is anticipated that the use of apps to aid medical diagnosis and treatment will gain in popularity. This will create a corresponding increased risk to the general public and specific regulations that accompany this nascent technology are still in their infancy.
For all stakeholders concerned, d4 feels it is in the collective interest to support responsible use of this new technology, saying it will take one high profile failing to cause a loss of trust that can take months, if not years, to rebuild. In their guidance document, Regulation of health apps: a practical guide, d4 makes the following recommendations:
1. Health professionals should carefully consider the risks when using apps to determine a patient's care.
2. Developers should test their apps thoroughly and maintain adequate technical documentation to evidence this.
3. Publishers should ensure compliance with the necessary regulations before releasing apps on to the market.
4. Organisations should investigate ways to manage the use of apps by their employees, and put in place mechanisms to identify those apps that are deemed fit for professional use.
5. Patients should examine carefully the source of the apps they use to manage their health. Within Europe, health apps that influence a patient's treatment should carry the CE mark to demonstrate their conformity with the appropriate regulation.
"mHealth is a new industry and the regulatory environment is evolving," said James Sherwin-Smith, CEO of d4. "Regulators are necessary to safeguard the public and uphold confidence in markets that would otherwise be open to potential abuse. But regulations also need to support, and not stifle, innovation. The regulatory issues that surround health apps are complex and open to interpretation. We hope that this guide provides a useful steer for individuals and organisations alike."
Notes for editors
BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK. It aims to increase the understanding of the professional specialty and scope of plastic surgery, promoting innovation in teaching, learning and research.
Founded in 1946 (originally as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons), today BAPRAS has over 800 members and is the professional representative body for reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients on the NHS and privately in the UK. Members of the public can find a member plastic surgeon in their area by logging on to www.bapras.org.uk. Anyone can check the GMC to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register; http://www.gmc-uk.org/register/search/index.asp
d4 is a non-profit organisation with registered charity status in England and Wales. Founded on the belief that better communication means better care, d4 aims to improve patient care by placing modern technology in the hands of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. For more information please contact James Sherwin-Smith on 0845 686 3434 or visit the d4 website at http://www.d4.org.uk