Motor Neurone Disease Association Web Apps
Patient Group Embraces Web App Development
As software continues to improve, web apps are one option for groups to create apps quickly and cheaply. For example, in the UK, as part of its app offering, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) has created two web apps.
Why consider web apps?
Traditionally, web apps have a few key advantages, for example:
- They tend to be quicker, easier and cheaper to create and update than apps designed to be downloaded to mobile devices.
- The web apps are usually accessed from the patient organisation’s own site without the complexity and cost of designing for a specific mobile platform and following the criteria of an app store.
- Because the content sits on the server for the organisation, it is easier to update the content centrally.
Equally there are some downsides:
- Now that most websites are mobile-optimised, there might be not much added value in creating a separate web app, and you may simply keep content on the main website.
- Although the software is improving, functionality is still quite limited in comparison to mobile apps – so they are better for say information delivery than algorithms or games.
- Design remains fairly basic.
Re-purpose information delivery
The Motor Neurone Disease Association decided to re-use and re-format existing information sources for their food and drink web app. The web app presents digitally advice and recipes from a printed booklet, which is in parallel available as a downloadable PDF.
In particular, the section of recipes works well digitally, structuring the recipes by type. For example, you can browse a set of easy to swallow recipes for meat, fish or vegetable dishes, or look for snacks and desserts. The addition of a search engine makes it easier to find what you need rather than navigating a PDF booklet. For example, as high calories can be important in MND diets, you can search for recipes with high calorie ingredients, such as cheese.
Similarly, their guide for young people, primarily from the view of supporting young carers who have a parent with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), structures the bite-sized chapters into clear sections. It’s a cost effective and practical way of structuring and pacing content and enabling navigation whichever device the reader happens to be using.
Both web apps have dedicated, structured sections for feedback for users, and make clear the other formats the information is available in, and how to get these.
Bring together apps into a library
At myhealthapps.net, we’ve always believed that it’s vital for patient groups to host and curate app libraries for trusted apps. The MND Association includes its two apps within its current app library which is well-structured across a range of topics from enabling your loved one to record their memories, through to practical tools to manage health records and self care. A short survey is added at the end of the library listing to encourage patients to share their own recommendations for apps.