MindApps – Patients And Clinicians Reviewing Apps Together
At myhealthapps.net, we’ve always argued that patient groups and patients are the best at evaluating the relevance and usefulness of apps. But we’ve also recognised the importance of bringing together all the key stakeholders, including clinicians and developers, and worked to make this happen.
So, it’s been good to see the work of Psykiatrien i Region Syddanmark, part of the Danish Health Service which set up the MindApps site. It’s been running for a few years now and aims to help patients and therapists to find high-quality and secure mental health apps. It could provide a useful model for other countries where health services review apps.
The team at MindApps run regular workshops with patients and therapists, improving both the site, and testing individual apps.
Each app is reviewed by at least two independent consultants and a data security expert from Denmark’s Telepsykiatrisk Center.
The rating system used makes sure that the top-scoring apps have always been developed with users:
“3.0 is given to a completely flawless, well-designed and well-written app that is developed with users and has good documentation for effect.
2.0 is given to an app with good background information, clinical quality, functionality and design.
1.0 is given to an app that has some useful features but is lacking at a level that has a negative effect on the use of the app. You will not find apps with a score lower than 1.5 on MindApps.dk.” – MindApps.dk
Keeping data security at the forefront
Having apps evaluated not only clinically, but also from a data security perspective closes a vital gap. Patients, patient groups and clinicians are not ideally placed to evaluate data security, and it’s still unusual to have such a comprehensive approach. Even high-profile health service sites curating apps have in the past been caught out by recommending apps with privacy risks.
Few apps in depth
Given that there are so many hundreds of thousands of health apps, MindApps focuses their specialist expertise on a small number of mental health apps – but in real depth. As well as a user comment, there are also descriptions of clinical evidence, where available, and the pros and cons of using the app. Data privacy issues and risks are also highlighted, and apps are grouped by their target audience, target age group, and areas of mental health focused upon.
Check an app yourself
The site even includes an app checker. Although partly aimed at developers to help them plan and review their apps against Danish quality criteria, it could also help individuals understand what to look for in an app.
Critically, it also focuses on the relevance to the user, for example:
“How well does the app address the needs of the target group it is developed for?
Is the app addressing the target group on a level that fits with the diagnosis, the expected cognitive ability, the need for rehabilitation support, language level etc?…
The app does not address the needs of the target group in a clear and appropriate way.
The app addresses the needs of the target group in an acceptable way.
The way the app addresses the needs of the target group is precise and thoroughly described.” – MindApps.