The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has launched a free version of the British National Formulary smartphone app for health and social professionals employed by NHS England.
The NICE BNF app has been developed to provide easy access to the latest up-to-date prescribing information from the BNF, the most widely-used medicines information reference guide used within the NHS.
The app is available to download for free via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Users will need their NHS Athens user name and password to activate the app and download the content.
The app provides direct offline access to the latest version of the BNF, giving a user access to BNF on their smartphone or tablet even when there is no internet connection available.
Duncan Enright, publishing director of the BNF, told eHealth Insider that he was hoping that the app would build “extra value” to the BNF for clinicians, which couldn’t be achieved in the traditional book form.
“We have had a BNF app since 2007 but this is the first time we have offered it free to the NHS and the reason behind this is to make sure BNF is available at the point of care.
“Despite previous research showing that digital forms of the BNF were not used as much as the book at the point of care, we are very excited about this free app and what it will achieve. This will be a starting point and we welcome any feedback from users,” he explained.
The BNF is a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and NICE has a licensing agreement with the publishers to provide free and open access for the NHS to BNF online via its NHS Evidence service and through mobile applications.
The app provides information and advice on the drug management of common conditions, details of medicines prescribed within the UK with reference to their uses, cautions, side effects, doses and relative costs and advice on prescribing, monitoring, dispensing and administering medicines.
At the recent NHS Hack Day 2012, developers scraped the BNF with the aim of providing it online for free, in a move that was supported by the likes of Dr Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science.
Enright told EHI that since the event, the BNF has met the developers and will look to work with the team involved in the scraping project on future BNF developments.
Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said that the “growing use of smartphones has created a new culture and means for people to access information while on the move.”
“The NICE Guidance app we launched earlier in the year has been phenomenally successful and we believe that health and care professionals will love our BNF app too. And because you don’t need internet access once the app is downloaded, professionals can be reassured they can get access to the BNF wherever they may be delivering care”.
An app for the British National Formulary for Children is in the late stages of development and will be released soon.
Over 285,000 NHS and social care staff already have an Athens account, and registration is free. Eligible staff who do not have an NHS Athens account can register online.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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