How a health app rating system could encourage clinician uptake

How a health app rating system could encourage clinician uptake

Researchers created a health app rating system aimed at helping clinicians find high- quality tools to recommend to their patients, according to a development study published in JMIR.

The App Rating Inventory, which was built by the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health branch, scores apps in three categories: evidence, content and customizability. All 28 items in the system are weighted equally and the scoring system is binary, meaning the app either has a specific feature or it doesn't. The final score is the sum of the three categories. 

"The category and final scores derived from the rating system inform the clinician about whether an app is evidence informed and easy to use," the study's authors Rachel Mackey, Ann Gleason and Robert Ciulla wrote. 

"Although a rating allows a clinician to make focused decisions about app selection in a context where thousands of apps are available, clinicians must weigh the following factors before integrating apps into a treatment plan: clinical presentation, patient engagement and preferences, available resources and technology expertise."


The researchers argue there aren't enough guidelines to help providers determine which apps are useful for their patients. Meanwhile, there are a huge number of apps to sort through; a report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science last year found more than 350,000 digital health apps are available to consumers. 

"The lack of guidelines and the time it takes to vet apps to find those most suited for clinical presentation have the potential to deter clinicians from integrating mobile apps into patient care and clinical practice," the study's authors wrote. 

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