Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

App Review From Patient Advocacy Sites

Patient organisations reviewing apps

We set up myhealthapps.net in the belief that patient groups know best what their members need most from apps. So, we’ve always been encouraged when patient groups, patient advocacy groups and other not-for-profit patient charities review or recommended apps.

Autism apps: The dedicated website

Recognising the demand for trusted information on autism apps, an Australian organisation opted to set up a new, separate website. The autism apps website is run by the Autism Association of Western Australia, a not for profit service provider, research and patient advocacy organisation.

The site was set up by the organisation with funding from individual donations, and from Australia’s Non-Government Centres Support for Non-School Association (NGCS).

The app reviews are very detailed, and evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team of therapists, including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and teachers.

The site’s overall aim is to:

  • “empower you with the skills and knowledge to successfully choose the Apps that are most appropriate for a person with Autism.”
This website covers topics including:
  • One, how to use an iPad effectively
  • Two, how to support people with autism using technology
  • Three, tips for selecting a useful app
  • And four, how to choose the best app for your goal.

Following on, you can search apps in the library, suitable for different needs, ages, categories such as fine motor skills and organisation, and links to the school curriculum for skill areas such as numeracy and literacy.

Within each review, there is a rating system, evaluating the app against a structured list of expectations including:

  • Ease of use
  • Practicality
  • The degree to which the app can be personalised to an individual

Some apps also have ratings for the strength of the evidence base and research supporting it, and how well the app motivates the individual to use it.

Although many countries will not have access to specific funds to enable a site like this, it does provide a model of a very comprehensive and thorough model to reviewing health apps in a specialist area.

An app review page or library

In addition, the US National Aphasia Association includes an app review page on its website. Each review has a clear screenshot, live links to download the app, and information on price and which platforms the app works on.

Designed primarily for the American market, the pricing descriptions can be quite comprehensive, for example discussing whether or not the app is reimbursable under medicare health insurance, or subscription options.

We often find that app review pages are buried deep in patient group websites, so it was good to see that on the patient section of the site, the app page is the first available to click on. It’s clearly indicated with a tablet icon. Having a single page on app reviews not only makes it easier for users to find, it also helps enormously in keeping one page up to date.

The richest 3-pages on aphasia apps

Furthermore, we always maintain that for materials generated by charities and patient groups, content matters more than expensive design. Just turning a word-processed document into a PDF can save a lot of time and money. As the US National Stroke Association proved, even in three pages, you can be very comprehensive.

Although their three-page list of aphasia apps is very dense, it is very clear and well-structured. Critically there are live links to more than 40 apps, with guidance on if the app is free or how much it costs. It’s a very rich resource, whose simple format belies the large amount of research involved. 

NEXT STEPS:

Visit the Australian autism apps site at…

Click here

See the US National Aphasia’s Association’s app review page at…

Click here

Download the US National Stroke Association’s PDF of aphasia apps at:

Click here

 

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