Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 363–371 | Cite as

Evaluating and selecting mobile health apps: strategies for healthcare providers and healthcare organizations

  • Edwin D Boudreaux
  • Molly E Waring
  • Rashelle B Hayes
  • Rajani S Sadasivam
  • Sean Mullen
  • Sherry Pagoto
Practice Tool

Abstract

Mobile applications (apps) to improve health are proliferating, but before healthcare providers or organizations can recommend an app to the patients they serve, they need to be confident the app will be user-friendly and helpful for the target disease or behavior. This paper summarizes seven strategies for evaluating and selecting health-related apps: (1) Review the scientific literature, (2) Search app clearinghouse websites, (3) Search app stores, (4) Review app descriptions, user ratings, and reviews, (5) Conduct a social media query within professional and, if available, patient networks, (6) Pilot the apps, and (7) Elicit feedback from patients. The paper concludes with an illustrative case example. Because of the enormous range of quality among apps, strategies for evaluating them will be necessary for adoption to occur in a way that aligns with core values in healthcare, such as the Hippocratic principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence.

Keywords

Mobile health e-health Application Health promotion Health behavior 

References

  1. 1.
    Nilsen W, Kumar S, Shar A, et al. Advancing the science of mHealth. J Health Commun. 2012;17(Suppl 1):5-10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fox S, Duggan M. Mobile Health 2012. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project; 2012.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Leroux E, Rivas H. Mobile health without borders, evidence-based mHealth. Stanford University; 2014.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    West DM. How mobile devices are transforming healthcare issues in technology innovation. Issues Technol Innov. 2012;18:1-14.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wang A, An N, Lu X, Chen H, Li C, Levkoff S. A classification scheme for analyzing mobile apps used to prevent and manage disease in late life. JMIR MHealth UHealth. 2014;2(1):e6.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Powell AC, Landman AB, Bates DW. In search of a few good apps. JAMA. Published online March 24, 2014.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wolf JA, Moreau JF, Akilov O, et al. Diagnostic inaccuracy of smartphone applications for melanoma detection. JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149:422-426.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gold A. Physicians split on use of mHealth apps FierceMobileHealthcare. 2014.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA issues final guidance on mobile medical apps, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/…/UCM263366.pdf. Accessed 19 August 2014.
  10. 10.
    Pagoto S, Schneider K, Jojic M, DeBiasse M, Mann D. Evidence-based strategies in weight-loss mobile apps. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45:576-582. mHealth Eval 2014.enl Page 2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Breton ER, Fuemmeler BF, Abroms LC. Weight loss—there is an app for that! But does it adhere to evidence-informed practices? Trans Behav Med: Pract Policy Res. 2011;1(4):523-529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Azar KMJ, Lesser LI, Laing BY, et al. Mobile applications for weight management: theory-based content analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45:583-589.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bender JL, Yue RY, To MJ, Deacken L, Jadad AR. A lot of action, but not in the right direction: systematic review and content analysis of smartphone applications for the prevention, detection, and management of cancer. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15:e287.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Donker T, Petrie K, Proudfoot J, Clarke J, Birch MR, Christensen H. Smartphones for smarter delivery of mental health programs: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15:e247.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bailey SC, Belter LT, Pandit AU, Carpenter DM, Carlos E, Wolf MS. The availability, functionality, and quality of mobile applications supporting medication self-management. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014;21(3):542-546.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Martinez-Perez B, de la Torre-Diez I, Lopez-Coronado M. Mobile health applications for the most prevalent conditions by the World Health Organization: review and analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15:e120.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    El-Gayar O, Timsina P, Nawar N, Eid W. Mobile applications for diabetes self-management: status and potential. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2013;7:247-262.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Muessig KE, Pike EC, Legrand S, Hightow-Weidman LB. Mobile phone applications for the care and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases: a review. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15:e1.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    van Mechelen DM, van Mechelen W, Verhagen EA. Sports injury prevention in your pocket?! Prevention apps assessed against the available scientific evidence: a review. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(11):878-882.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Abroms LC, Padmanabhan N, Thaweethai L, Phillips T. iPhone apps for smoking cessation: content analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2011;40(3):279-285.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dolan B. Happtique suspends mobile health app certification program. Mobihealthnews. 2013.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cohn AM, Hunter-Reel D, Hagman BT, Mitchell J. Promoting behavior change from alcohol use through mobile technology: the future of ecological momentary assessment. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011;35:2209-2215.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    McGowan BS, Wasko M, Vartabedian BS, Miller RS, Freiherr DD, Abdolrasulnia M. Understanding the factors that influence the adoption and meaningful use of social media by physicians to share medical information. J Med Internet Res. 2012;14:e117.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    O'Connor ME. 100 healthcare and digital health influencers to follow in 2014. http://www.slideshare.net/ennoconn/health-care-social-media-influencers. Accessed 26 August 2014.
  25. 25.
    Bastien JMC. Usability testing: a review of some methodological and technical aspects of the method. Int J Med Inform. 2010;79(4):e18-e23. doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2008.12.004. Epub 2009 Apr 2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Boudreaux ED, Haskins B. Evaluation of websites and web-based applications targeting alcohol and drug use. Poster to be presented at the 35th Annual Meeting and Scientific Session of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Philadelphia, PA; 2014.Google Scholar
  27. 27.

Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin D Boudreaux
    • 1
  • Molly E Waring
    • 2
  • Rashelle B Hayes
    • 3
  • Rajani S Sadasivam
    • 4
  • Sean Mullen
    • 5
  • Sherry Pagoto
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Quantitative Health SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Division of Epidemiology of Chronic Diseases and Vulnerable Populations, Department of Quantitative Health SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science, Department of Quantitative Health SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  5. 5.Department of Kinesiology & Community HealthUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations