Considerations, resources when choosing medical apps
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For many clinicians, apps have become a convenient way to access information that can assist in caring for their patients, a presenter said here at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting.
However, Katherine T. Chen, MD, MPH, of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, told attendees this convenience comes with the risk for inaccurate data and safety breaches.
Though there is no paucity of apps — Chen said her own research indicated 3.72 million results when she searched ‘ob/gyn apps’ on Google in November 2013, a number that skyrocketed to 1.54 billion when she did the same search in January 2019 — that does not mean that every app is useful, she said.
She shared an acronym that she developed that she said might be helpful to clinicians assessing an app’s convenience and risk.
“Remember the word APPLICATIONS, and assign points to each of these items,” Chen said.
“A is for app comprehensiveness; P is for price; [the second] P is for whether or not a paid subscription is needed”
“L is for literature used,” Chen continued. “I stands for in-app purchase; C is for connectivity; A is for ads; T is for text search field; I is for interdevice compatibility; O is for features like images, figures and videos; N is for ease of navigation; and S is for how subjectively the app’s information is presented.”
The higher the score, the more convenient and usable the app likely is, she said.
Another way to ascertain the risk or convenience an app may or may not provide is to ask “how patients’ data are stored, used and shared,” Chen said, citing research that indicated 0% of mobile personal health record apps for pregnancy monitoring have adequate privacy policies.
She added that the FDA does not regulate apps, it only oversees those “intended to treat, diagnose, cure, mitigate or prevent disease or medical conditions.” Consequently, not all apps are reliable sources of the health information they claim they can gather, such as heart rates, pregnancy due dates or timing of menstrual cycles.
The website imedicalapps, which contains physician reviews of apps and has “strict conflict of interest guidelines” is another useful resource for comparing apps, and has been recommended by both mainstream and specialty media for its objectivity, Chen said. – by Janel Miller
Reference: Chen KT. “Smart phones and tablets: Delivering apps to ob-gyns.” Presented at: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting; May 3-6, 2019; Nashville.
Disclosures: Chen reports receiving honoraria from OBG Management and Royalties from Up to Date.