Core disciplines: Customer experience, Digital, Innovation/NPD/Service Design, Research


Public Health England (PHE)

Revolutionising how digital healthcare works

We're working with PHE to get health apps integrated into the NHS, completely changing the way care is delivered to patients.

The challenge

With over 150,000 health and fitness apps available, there's never been a greater chance to let people manage their own health.

Unbelievably, there's a negative correlation between app ratings in app stores and their effectiveness. Given this situation, health professionals need guidance on what apps to recommend to patients, and patients need reassurance that apps that they download have been checked.

PHE set us the task of defining the end-to-end service for how to develop a fledgling app assessment process that allows the use of healthcare apps to grow, while minimising the risk of harm.

The main objectives were to:

  • Develop a way to properly assess apps, ultimately helping health professionals recommend them to the UK public to manage their own health and fitness
  • Work out how to overcome key challenges. For example, who should assess each app? How do you make sure there are no conflictsof interest for the assessors? How do you handle apps updating over time? What about security of people's health data?
  • Provide a clear picture of how people currently discover health apps, and what influences their choice
  • Define what skills, incentives and processes are needed for a community of professionals to effectively assess apps and give recommendations on which to use



Trying to create this process was incredibly complex—a bit like hitting a moving target. Webcredible helped find the answers to a lot of difficult issues and designed a service ready to be deployed into the real world.

Diarmaid Crean

Deputy Director Digital, Public Health England


Our approach

With the stakes so incredibly high (due to the massive potential impact this could have on the UK public and the NHS), we put together a robust service design approach approach:

  1. We started by engaging with lots of key stakeholders across PHE, NHS Digital and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), to get buy-in and ensure we understood their vision for the app assessment process.
  2. We carried out in-depth interviews with app developers to understand how the creators of these products worked with wider health bodies. It became clear that ultimately, getting a level of NHS endorsement for the best products would be essential.
  3. We also conducted a lot of interviews with healthcare professionals, and ran focus groups with end users of health apps. From this, we started to define a scalable service design for an app assessment process that would develop over time.
  4. We focussed on key healthcare areas (diabetes and mental health) and brought in developers and healthcare professionals to assess a range of apps in person. This allowed us to identify the touchpoints, content and processes needed to effectively assess apps.
  5. We used our learnings to quickly put together an online service and test a more complete process with healthcare professionals, getting their feedback to further develop the wider service design.
  6. We delivered a detailed blueprint for an app assessment service – including processes, roles, partners and touchpoints – involving NHS Digital, doctors and academics, with governance and leadership from PHE.


Impact & results

A number of national organisations have now started using our process to provide the first batch of assessed apps, which are now being promoted in a brand new NHS Digital Apps Library.

Most importantly, we've created a scalable plan-of-action to address an enormous problem, solving a complex issue at a national level.


We’ve conducted research with app creators, health professionals and policy experts

Our service blueprint explains the entire app assessment and usage model

We rapidly created design prototypes, on which we ran usability testing

Our roadmap shows how the app assessment process could be scaled over time

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