Back to Evaluating Mobile Medical Applications: An ASHP eReport
The number of medical-related applications (apps) and their use among health care professionals has grown rapidly in recent years. These apps have the potential to improve patient care by providing clinical information at the patients? bedside, assisting with clinical decision making, improving communications, and allowing for real-time patient monitoring. However, there are also potential dangers to consider, as some apps may contain inaccurate, unreliable, or misleading information that could have a negative impact on patient safety. These concerns are highlighted by recent studies showing variability among opioid conversion apps and the inaccuracy of apps for melanoma detection. Several apps, including a rheumatology disease scoring calculator and apps for acne treatment, have also been recalled due to inaccurate information or misleading claims of efficacy.
Although the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will regulate certain apps as a medical device, oversight is generally lacking. The FDA has neither the time nor resources to review all available mobile apps, leaving clinicians with the responsibility to ensure that they are appropriate. Therefore, it is imperative that end-users understand how to critically evaluate these medical apps to determine their quality and ultimately protect patients.
This eReport will provide a rubric for readers to use when evaluating medical apps. In addition, it will serve as a guide to help users critique medical apps, including their accuracy, authority, objectivity, timeliness, utility, functionality, usability, security, and overall value. These factors will be considered in detail and some examples of app evaluations will be discussed. In addition, the eReport will review other helpful resources for reviewing apps, such as the Health On the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONCode), app evaluation Web sites (eg, iMedicalApps.com, MedicalAppJournal), and app certification initiatives (eg, Happtique?).