Study: mHealth tools still need some fine tuning to reduce risk, spur adoption

Mobile health application and device makers must improve the overall quality of their tools, a paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concludes.

For the study, researchers with the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment's Centre for Health Protection focused on 116 tools and three frequent functions: providing users with information, assisting with therapy adhesion and monitoring effect and possible side effects of medication.

‎The study noted that incorrect use or tool error could lead to incorrect medical decision making, but that the chance of it happening was unrealistic for just over 60 percent of the tools examined.

"Many apps for medication use are available and they mainly offer simple functionalities," according to the researchers, who note that a minority of apps studied pose potential high risk, while many are unclear on data storage. The research also notes non-users would use such tools if reliability and instructions were more clear.

The research focused on apps and other health IT tools available in the Netherlands; however, the authors included apps and e-tools available in Dutch or English, saying that they "expected that English apps will be used by a substantial amount of Dutch users, as well."

In February, Commonwealth Fund research stated that very few mHealth apps are useful and more than a few disregard safety and quality in the quest to give wider functionality. Last month, a research letter published in the JAMA Internal Medicine reported that a once popular blood pressure app is highly inaccurate; the letter calls for a partnership effort of app makers, regulators and distributors to set and follow standard to drive safe and valid mHealth technology.

For more information:
- read the paper at JMIR

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