Evaluating Mobile Medical Applications eReport

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This eReport provides a rubric for readers to use when evaluating medical apps, and will serve as a guide to help users critique medical apps, including their accuracy, authority, objectivity, timeliness, utility, functionality, usability, security, and overall value.

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The number of medical-related applications (apps) and their use among healthcare professionals has grown rapidly in recent years. These apps have the potential to improve patient care by providing clinical information at the patient’s 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 U.S. 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 (iMedicalApps.com, MedicalAppJournal), and app certification initiatives (Happtique).

Conor Hanrahan, PharmD, MS, BCPS

Conor Hanrahan is Director, Medication Policy and Outcomes at Intermountain Healthcare, a health system comprised of 22 hospitals and over 180 clinics throughout UT and ID. In his current role, Dr. Hanrahan coordinates the activities of the Drug Information Center, manages the system-wide formulary, and facilitates policy and procedure development for Pharmacy Services. Hanrahan is also PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program Director. He previously served as Manager, Drug Information Services, and Drug Information Specialist. 

After graduating with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Dr. Hanrahan completed a 1-year industry-based medical information fellowship at Fresenius Medical Care. He then went on to complete a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency followed by a PGY2 drug information specialty residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Hanrahan has also completed postgraduate training in conflict mediation and dispute resolution, and is in the process of obtaining a Masters in Comparative Effectiveness Research. He received his Master of Science at University of Illinois at Chicago. He currently maintains certifications as a Pharmacotherapy Specialist, Professional in Patient Safety, and Professional in Health Information and Management Systems.


Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD

Timothy Dy Aungst is currently Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, MCPHS University, Worcester, MA. He received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from Wilkes University Nesbit School of Pharmacy, Wilkes-Barre, PA, and completed his clinical geriatric fellowship at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Worcester, MA, and his PGY1 pharmacy practice residency (ASHP accredited) at St. Luke's University Hospital Network, Bethlehem, PA. His interests are centered on transitions of care and geriatric medicine. Dr. Aungst is dedicated toward the merge of technology and medicine, with a focus on mobile health. He hopes to bring mobile technology to pharmacy practice and interdisciplinary care, leveraging technology to improve access to information and increase interprofessional communication. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.


Sabrina Cole, PharmD, BCPS

Sabrina Cole is Chief Pharmacy Officer at Intermountain Healthcare. She was previously Executive Operations Director, System Pharmacy Services, and Medication Policy and Outcomes Director. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and her Master of Business Administration at the University of Utah – David Eccles School of Business. Dr. Cole completed a pharmacy practice residency with an emphasis in drug information (2004) and a drug information practice specialty residency (2005). Her specialties include drug information, biostatistics, and critical literature evaluation. In 2016, Dr. Cole won a Teaching Award from the University of Utah’s School of Medicine.