How do you select a good PT related app?
Well, let's start with the developer. What are the credentials of the developer? Does the developer have the expertise to write that content area? Is the content peer-reviewed? There are also ratings and there are ways that you as a consumer can rate an app. There's really a lot of bias and a tremendous amount of manipulation in these reviews. I find that most people that are happy with something, just continue to use it and don't bother to tell people that they're happy with it. But, when you make somebody angry, or when they don't think that they got what they paid for, they are incredibly quick to write a negative review. Reviews are usually in the form of stars and a rating may not have anything to do with your app, it might be a situation where they didn't understand how to use it. What about references? Look at the app, is it referenced, is it peer-reviewed references? Are the references solid sources from index journals? And then, how often is the app updated? That information is readily available on the first screen of the app that you can look and see when was the last time it was updated. If it's been over a year, then you have to begin to wonder how current is that app? Now that information is a tiny bit deceiving because that only records when the app is resubmitted to Apple or Android as considering it being an update. Now when I go in and I post new data for my app, and I push that data out through a new badge telling you there's an update, that's not considered an update cause we didn't change the code. It's when there are code changes that come out. So the accuracy of that data is a little deceiving, but it's still helpful to know that the developer is on top of things and is changing things to make it a better user experience and to make the data current.
The sheer number of available apps makes it hard for you to decide, just like you don't have time to read all the journals out there, you don't have time to sit there and peruse through all the medical apps that are out there. In 2014, Albrecht, et al, basically published criteria of self-assessment for trust or distrust amongst health apps. They came up with seven criteria. What is the status of the app? Is the app considered a medical product and has it undergone a regulatory process? And generally the answer to that questions is no, it really hasn't. Most apps are not considered medical products. Now you may have a medical device that interfaces with an app, but generally, it's not considered an FDA approved and regulated medical device. What is the purpose of the app? Is it clearly specified? Do you know exactly what the app is going to provide you with? Do you know how you're going to get that information and do you now exactly what information you're going to get? What is the error measurement of the information that you receive? The functionality, is it thorough? Is it comprehensive? Are there descriptions of the function of it so that you know how to use it appropriately? Are there risks or limits to it? Like for example, there is an app out there called My Medical, I believe is the name of it, and it stores your medical information. Like you can upload every blood test you've ever had, you can upload your last doctor's visit, you can upload the last time you had a physical, or surgical procedure, what medications you're on, et cetera, but is that entrusted? Is that something that anybody can get access to, and that's a problem if it's not. Is it reliable? So can you somehow identify the qualifications of the author or the developer? Is that identified or does it just tell you that this app is developed by the such and such company? Can you get in and find information about the author? Are there any conflicts of interest to that person providing you that information? Data protection, can the app be used without you sharing sensitive data? Some apps you can add information to, some apps you just get information from, or get readings from, as a tool, et cetera, but can you control that to be able to turn it on or turn it off if needed? And finally, what is the imprint? Where can you go if you have questions? Can you get a hold of the developer? What is their customer service and their support like? Sometimes again, in the reviews, people will tell you, that there's good customer service, other times they'll tell you, it's horrible. You also have to remember that if you leave feedback like “this app doesn't do what it's supposed to do”, there is no way for a developer or an author to get back to you, because they don't know who that feedback came from. If you have a problem with an app, you really need to look up who is the contact person and get in touch with them.