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Digital Government best practices – Certified App Stores

certification1In key citizen scenarios like E-Health the emergence of “DIY IT” (Do It Yourself) technologies is a key trend changing how, where and why IT can be used.

The popularity of app stores and online stores in general since Napster through iTunes or Google Play has empowered a culture, and expectation, of self-service through the simplicity of ‘download and run’ to my preferred smartphone.

In particular in healthcare this has combined with related device innovations, so that for example the Bant app can enable smart phone users with diabetes to test and monitor their blood sugar levels by themselves.

This type of self-service healthcare relieves the system of much of this type low urgency, repetitive work, where the person with the most self-interest in the topic is best served to be performing the function too.

Certified App Stores

There have been a plethora of online apps published and devices coming to market, and so one challenge for the public sector is how can they tap these same forces, but in a somewhat more regulated and controlled manner.

An easy example that illustrates the scenario is NHS Choices, the ‘apps store for the NHS’, the UK health service.

This is an online store like any other app store, but where the apps are pre-selected only for a particular vertical industry niche or user group community, with more stringent certification procedures for which apps are allowed on.

With apps being used for more critical functions like diagnosis and drug recommendations then there needs to be greater scrutiny of the quality of the apps being used; furthermore there are all the considerations related to personal privacy, and so on.

A team with the right skills and tools can ensure these concerns are addressed and from there offer an extremely powerful platform that can harness “the Crowd effect” for innovative ideas, apps produced quickly, and so on, all the characteristics often described as lacking from public sector IT.

The concept is defined in detailed context in the recent white paper from Canada Health Infoway, entitled Mobile Computing in Clinical Settings. (56 page PDF)

On page 47 it explains the key points about the role such a trusted broker would play in this ecosystem:

“Organizations must ensure mobile device apps are trustworthy. Consideration must be given to how apps are evaluated and/or certified.

The creation of a third party privacy and security and interoperability certification process for vendor and institutional developed mobile apps would remove a due diligence burden from health care delivery organizations which may not have the expertise or resources to evaluate vendor products.

It would also have the benefit of increasing the level of assurance and trust organizations place in protecting PHI accessed or stored in mobile devices.

In the absence of a formal independent certification process, HDOs should require vendor developed mobile apps to demonstrate privacy protective and security features. Organizations should consider using a due diligence process to ensure apps meet established requirements. Particular attention should be paid to the permissions used by acquired or in-house developed mobile apps.”

5. Conclusion

This Ecosystem approach isn’t unique to Healthcare, this is a general blueprint that can be reused in other sectors. For example in this blog the UK Government team describe how they plan to fuse their Digital services portfolio with their G-Cloud apps store, for the same kind of reasons.

The post Digital Government best practices – Certified App Stores appeared first on Cloud Computing Best Practices.

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