A recent paper examines the state of the art in mobile clinical and health-related apps as healthcare professionals and consumers express concerns about the quality of many apps.
The paper describes the range of apps on offer as of 2013, and then presents a brief survey of evaluation studies of medical and health-related apps that have been conducted to date, covering a range of clinical disciplines and topics. The survey includes studies that highlighted risks, negative issues and worrying deficiencies in existing apps.
The paper goes on to discuss the ingredients for successful apps beyond the rather narrow definition of ‘apps as a medical device’. These ingredients cover app content quality, usability, the need to match apps to consumers’ general and health literacy levels, device connectivity standards (for apps that connect to glucometers, blood pressure monitors, etc.), as well as app security and user privacy.
The paper goes on to speculate that it is probably impossible to rate and police every app on offer today, much like in those early days of the Web, when people quickly realised the same regarding informational Web pages. The best first line of defence was, is, and will always be to educate consumers regarding the potentially harmful content of (some) apps.