A health app which encourages and supports people to lead a healthier lifestyle, has been adapted and improved so that thousands more can use it.
The changes included it being translated into four languages and the addition of a health MOT feature – with users getting a digital copy of their results, so they can monitor progress.
The Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) My Health Check app, for smartphones, was originally launched in 2017, working with app developer Tinderhouse. KCHFT and Tinderhouse adapted a national NHS app to make the Kent version, which has local information and signposts users to various health and wellbeing organisations within the county.
The national NHS app is aimed at those who qualify for a free NHS health check. These are people aged between 40 and 74, who do not already have a pre-existing condition and they are invited for a check every five years.
KCHFT was keen for the its own app to be used by a wider audience and not just those who’d had an NHS health check, seeing the benefits of it being available to everyone.
A project team set to work on the Kent app in January 2020 and a new and updated version was launched in November 2020, with developments slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app can now be used in Polish, Slovakian, Nepalese and Punjabi, as well as English. The health MOT provides users with a digital copy of their results, so progress can be monitored, as well as access to support and advice regarding scores.
The My Health Check app can be used by anyone, but works best for those who are also working with a One You advisor or a NHS Health Check adviser. One You is run by KCHFT in partnership with Kent County Council and encourages people to improve their health by losing weight, quitting smoking and making lifestyle changes, with support from advisors.
By developing the app, the team aimed to increase monthly downloads from 230 to 300 a month, with the project due to run until November (2021). However, the aim was reached and surpassed by June 2021, with the app was averaging 450 downloads a month.
The team plans to continue to add to and adapt the app, as needed.
Project lead Sarah Hutchings, a One You team lead for north and west Kent with KCHFT, said: “We won’t now just sit back, after reaching our aim, we plan to continue to develop the app, to meet current needs and to keep it up to date.
“During COVID-19, we found a lot of people were looking at their own health and wellbeing and wanting to make improvements. Our app helps, along with the support of One You, as clients can start with a health check or our own health MOT at the beginning and then track their progress. Some people were drinking alcohol to excess during Covid and working with the app and an advisor, they could see the benefits of reducing this.”
The work was carried out as a quality improvement (QI) project. QI is a set of tools and techniques and is used by healthcare trusts worldwide.
To reach the aim of increasing downloads, the team promoted the app to new clients booking for health checks, those booking smoke free appointments and others.
Advisers were given extra training on the app and encouraged to promote it. A focus group tested it and app feedback was monitored and acted upon. Advice pages were updated and new links added signposting support available from partner organisations.
Sarah said: “We ran workshops for advisers on using the app. When we started 60 per cent said their knowledge of using it was good. After the workshops, 100 per cent of attendees rated their knowledge as excellent. Very good or good. This helped them to promote the app to clients.”
More on the project here: https://qi.kentcht.nhs.uk/increasing-downloads-of-health-check-app/