A graded review of mobile apps for patient education published in the February 2018 issue of ‘Cutis’ showed significant shortcomings with the majority of apps now available.
In the article, “Mobile Medical Apps for Patient Education: A Graded Review of Available Dermatology Apps“, the authors reported that only 20% of the 44 mobile apps evaluated were considered adequate for patient information.
The authors ranked the mobile apps on 5 criteria thought to be most important in evaluating the adequacy of these apps in relaying health information to patients. Each criteria was ranked on a 4-point scale. The criteria were:
- educational objectives
- and conflict of interest
Of the 44 mobile apps that were evaluated, only 9 (20.5%) received scores in the highest range of 16-20.
The authors pointed out that “The widespread adoption and use of mobile apps has implications for medical practice. Mobile apps have the capability to serve as information sources for patients, educational tools for students, and diagnostic aids for physicians. Consequently, a number of medical and health care–oriented apps have already been developed and are increasingly utilized by patients and providers.”
The goal of the study was to develop an objective means of evaluating mobile apps before recommending them to patients. The authors stated that “Adopting the grading rubric developed in this study as a standard in the creation of medical apps could have beneficial implications in disseminating accurate, safe, unbiased, and easy-to-understand information to patients.”
Clearly there is a need for medical professionals to have a quick and easy means of judging whether an app can serve as a trusted resource for their patients. An objective measure as outlined in this article may be helpful for providing physicians with this insight.