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How a health app rating system could encourage adoption by doctors


How a health app rating system could encourage adoption by doctors

According to a development study published in JMIR, researchers have created a health app rating system aimed at helping doctors find high-quality tools to recommend to their patients.

The App Classification Inventory, which was created by the Connected Health branch of the Defense Health Agency, classifies apps into three categories: evidence, content, and personalization. All 28 items in the system are weighted equally and the scoring system is binary, meaning the app has a specific function or not. The final score is the sum of the three categories.

“The category and endpoint scores derived from the scoring system inform the clinician that an app is evidence-based and easy to use,” wrote study authors Rachel Mackey, Ann Gleason, and Robert Ciulla.

“While an assessment allows a clinician to make specific app selection decisions in a context where thousands of apps are available, clinicians should assess the following factors before integrating apps into a treatment plan: clinical presentation, engagement, and preferences. of the patient, technology and available resources. expertise”.


The researchers say there aren’t enough guidelines to help providers determine which apps are useful for their patients. In the meantime, there are a plethora of apps to sort through; an IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science report last year found that more than 350,000 digital health apps are available to consumers.

“The lack of guidelines and the time it takes to test apps to find the ones best suited for clinical presentation have the potential to deter clinicians from integrating mobile apps into patient care and clinical practice,” the researchers wrote. study authors.


While developing and evaluating the app rating system, the researchers gained much insight into the quality and usefulness of health apps.

While popularity is not entirely reliable, it can be an important signal when evaluating health apps. Users may not rate the therapeutic quality of the app when they rate it on the Apple App Store or Google Play, but it shows that the app is likely to be constantly updated and contain attractive features.

Another important consideration is whether the app includes dynamic and interactive content, such as push notifications and information that changes as users complete their goals. The use of applications can also improve the patient experience by meeting them where they are and improving their adherence to treatment.

However, the researchers noted that it is common for health apps to fail to deliver on the promises made in app descriptions. For example, many apps will be advertised as free, but actually require payment to access most of the content.

Some health apps can also spread inaccurate or harmful information, another reason doctors should evaluate it before giving advice to patients.

“In short, the scoring systems provide guidance and filter an exhaustive list of health apps in a given category to consider just a few,” the authors wrote. “In fact, the applications are not new drugs; in many cases, they are new delivery systems for proven interventions.”

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