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Selecting a Good PT Related APP

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS

May 30, 2017

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Question

How do you select a good PT related app?

Answer

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. 

 


dawn t gulick

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS

Dawn T. Gulick, PhD, PT, AT, CSCS, a Professor of Physical Therapy. Her areas of expertise are orthopedics, sports medicine, modalities, and medical screening.  As a clinician, she has owned a private orthopedic/sports medicine practice.  She also provides athletic training services from the middle school to elite Olympic/Paralympic level.  As a member of the Olympic Sports Medicine Society, Dr. Gulick has provided medical coverage at numerous national and international events.  As a scholar, Dr. Gulick is the author of 4 books (Ortho Notes, Screening Notes, Sport Notes, Mobilization Notes), four book chapters, > 60 peer-reviewed publications, and > 100 professional and civic presentations.  OrthoNotes is in the 5th edition and has been translated into multiple languages.  Dr. Gulick is an entrepreneur.  She is the developer of a mobile app called iOrtho+ (Apple, Android, & desktop versions).  Her app has been downloaded over 160K times around the world. She is the Founder & CEO of Therapeutic Articulations.  She is the inventor of the Mobil-Aider, an orthopedic device designed to quantify joint mobility.  She is the recipient of a phase I and phase II National Science Foundation grant of over $1.2M for the commercialization of the Mobil-Aider.  She owns the utility patent & has achieved FDA clearance.  She has two other medical projects in process.  Dr. Gulick has served and held leadership roles on numerous committees over her 25 years in academia. 

Dr. Gulick earned a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Lock Haven University (Lock Haven, PA), a Master of Physical Therapy from Emory University (Atlanta, GA), and a Doctorate in Exercise Physiology from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA).  She is an AMBUCS scholar and a member of Phi Kappa Phi (past chapter president) and Kappa Delta Pi Honor Societies.


Related Courses

Medical Screening – Part 1 Systemic Pathology
Presented by Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Course: #4473Level: Advanced2 Hours
  'Great Videos'   Read Reviews
This course focuses on medical screening for the physical therapist and is Part 1 of a four-part series on screening. Part 1 provides an overview of the signs/symptoms of systemic pathology.

Editor's Note: Regarding Pennsylvania credits, this course is approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy for 2 hours of Direct Access CE credit.

Medical Screening – Part 2 Pediatrics & Adolescence
Presented by Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Course: #4474Level: Advanced2 Hours
  'nice teaching style with applicable info for clinic'   Read Reviews
This course focuses on medical screening for the physical therapist and is Part 2 of a four-part series on screening. Part 2 addresses pathology in the pediatric and adolescent lifespan. Part 1 is recommended prior to part 2.

Editor's Note: Regarding Pennsylvania credits, this course is approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy for 2 hours of Direct Access CE credit.

Medical Screening – Part 3 Adult
Presented by Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Course: #4475Level: Advanced2 Hours
  'Skin cancer clearly discussed'   Read Reviews
This course focuses on medical screening for the physical therapist and is Part 3 of a four-part series on screening. Part 3 addresses pathology in the adult portion of the lifespan. Part 1 is recommended prior to part 3.

Editor's Note: Regarding Pennsylvania credits, this course is approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy for 2 hours of Direct Access CE credit.

Medical Screening – Part 4 Geriatrics
Presented by Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Course: #4476Level: Advanced2 Hours
  'can relate to the population that I treat'   Read Reviews
This course focuses on medical screening for the physical therapist and is Part 4 of a four-part series on screening. Part 4 addresses pathology in the geriatric portion of the lifespan. Part 1 is recommended prior to part 4.

Editor's Note: Regarding Pennsylvania credits, this course is approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy for 2 hours of Direct Access CE credit.

Extremity Joint Mobilization Techniques
Presented by Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Dawn T. Gulick, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Course: #3462Level: Advanced1.5 Hours
  'Lots of good information to use in the clinic right away'   Read Reviews
This course is designed to provide an objective way to perform joint mobilization techniques utilizing the Mobil-Aider device. Tasks for the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle will be performed. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and athletic training and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA and AT.

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