Phobia Free, an innovative app that helps people overcome arachnophobia, designed by Virtually Free Ltd, has been reviewed and approved by NHS England to feature on its app library. The Health Apps Library is an initiative to help NHS England achieve the goal of improving outcomes for patients through the use of technology by giving the public access to health services at the touch of a button.

"Having our app approved by the NHS is a tremendous endorsement of our work," said Virtually Free co-founder Dr Andres Fonseca.

"We believe this initiative by NHS England to give people access to quality assured apps and protect patients is very important. Smartphones and tablets have become integral tools in people accessing medical information and the large amount of information out there, can sometimes become overwhelming for people to access the help they need," continued Dr Fonseca.

Phobia Free, available on iPad and iPhone, helps to tackle people’s fear by exposing suffers to more and more realistic spiders over time. The app uses a novel interactive method to achieve this through relaxation techniques and in app gameplay while setting goals and tracking progress. Users of the app confront their fear by progressing from cute spiders all the way up to an augmented reality tarantula that looks and behaves like the real thing.

Arachnophobia is the acute fear of spiders and affects 6% of the population. In extreme cases arachnophobia suffers may experience panic attacks as a result of their fear. It is one of the most common phobias to affect people in the UK and the world.

All of the apps featured in the NHS Health Apps Library have been reviewed by NHS England to make sure they are clinically safe. Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information at the NHS Commissioning Board explained, "There are somewhere in the region of 13,000 apps out there which profess to give various types of medical advice. The library is a way of giving an NHS stamp of approval to apps so users know they are safe."

"We will continue to innovate and improve Phobia Free and in the near future our app will be looking at other animal phobias that afflict people across the UK. We hope that with this seal of approval by NHS England more people will get access to our app and be able to benefit from it to rid themselves of their phobia forever," concluded Dr Andres Fonseca.

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