Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Both Here And Overseas There Are Concerns With The Quality And Utility Of Health Apps.

This appeared last week here:

These are the best medication reminder apps

5 December 2016
A LOT of the available medication reminder apps for mobile phones lack useful functionality or are of poor quality, reviewers say.
A team led by the George institute for Global Health has reviewed 272 apps designed to improve medication adherence, of which only 6.6% had at least nine of the 17 features they say are desirable.
The median number of features per app was just three, and in more than half of the apps flexible scheduling and medication tracking history were the only two features present.
Other common functions included customisable alert sounds, data exporting/sharing, and languages other than English, which were available in less than third of the apps.
Other desirable features nominated by the reviewers included refill reminders (19.5% of apps), data security (11%), adherence statistics and charts (10.7%), and adherence rewards (1.8%).
The reviewers sought out all the relevant apps available in the Australian iTunes store and Google Play then divided them into ‘basic’ apps, or ‘advanced’ apps which tracked taken and missed doses. Then they ranked them using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) tool.
There is more here:
From the US we have research discussed here:

Research of mHealth Apps Reveals Significant Gaps in Quality

December 7, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
An evaluation of 137 patient-facing mobile health (mHealth) apps revealed subpar findings, including that few apps address the needs of the patients who could benefit the most, according to research in December’s issue of Health Affairs.
Researchers from University of Michigan Medical School, the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and elsewhere noted that key stakeholders, including medical professional societies, insurers, and policy makers, have largely avoided formally recommending apps, which forces patients to obtain recommendations from other sources. As such, the researchers evaluated apps that were intended for use by patients to manage their health, that were highly rated by consumers and recommended by experts, and that targeted high-need, high-cost populations.
They found that there is a wide variety of apps in the marketplace but that “few apps address the needs of the patients who could benefit the most. “We also found that consumers’ ratings were poor indications of apps’ clinical utility or usability and that most apps did not respond appropriately when a user entered potentially dangerous health information. Going forward, data privacy and security will continue to be major concerns in the dissemination of mHealth apps,” the researchers stated.
To identify apps that target high-need, high-cost populations, the researchers conducted a systematic search for mHealth apps in the Apple iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android) app stores. They also systematically searched for app suggestions on medical professional society websites. They further solicited recommendations for apps through telephone interviews with experts in mobile technology, vulnerable populations, and patient advocacy, and then identified additional health apps based on personal experience. Each selected app was assigned for review to both a clinician and a non-clinician. Apps available for both iOS and Android were reviewed on both platforms.
The app analysis focused on nine variables: the target population for each app; each app’s types of functionality related to patient engagement; app store rating; clinical utility; usability; the app’s reactivity to information that could indicate health danger; the presence of a privacy policy; the mechanism of data sharing; and the cost model. Many apps were designed to serve multiple high-need, high-cost populations, and eleven of them were deemed general enough to be useful across all such populations.
More here:
And here:

Most mHealth apps aren't effective for chronic conditions

Dec 6, 2016 7:30am
An explosion of new mobile health apps offers consumers an unprecedented level of choice, but clinical utility is still lacking for those with chronic conditions.
Although there is a rapidly growing market of mHealth apps targeting high-cost, high-need health conditions, the majority of those apps are unable to go beyond a basic level of patient engagement that would be clinically effective in helping consumers manage specific chronic illnesses, according to a study published in the December issue of JAMA.
Of the 137 mobile health apps evaluated by researchers targeting illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, arthritis, and depression and bipolar disorder, very few offered functionalities like providing guidance based on user-entered information or rewarding behavior changes. Researchers also discovered that user ratings offer a poor indication of the apps clinical impact, an indication that patients and clinicians value certain functionalities differently, and echoing previous findings that app reviews aren’t trustworthy.
More here:
Each of these is worth following up. The key message, for now, appears to be Caveat Emptor.
David.

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