Swedish App Retiring Gracefully
Retiring gracefully – Swedish patient group ends app as state steps in.
It can be hard for patient groups to know why, when and how to withdraw an app. Ideally, this can happen when the gap it originally addressed is now covered elsewhere. An ongoing concern is how apps that patients rely on are suddenly withdrawn, or simply stop working. Patient groups need to model for other developers on how to withdraw an app in ways that minimise the impact on patients.
Clearly warn people that the app is ending
Commercial healthcare apps often disappear without warning, or no longer work after software upgrades. Best practice is to warn users wherever possible that an app is planned to be withdrawn. Developers, of course, may not know whether a software upgrade may disable their app, but they do know when they are no longer planning to invest in maintaining an app. In the case of the Swedish asthma and allergy group, Asthmaoallergiforbundet, they were clear about their reasons for ending the app.
Explain why the app is ending
The group felt that the Swedish healthcare system’s online and telephone support system, 1177.se now was able to fill the gap addressed by the group’s app. This means that the group’s resources can be covered elsewhere.
The group explains:
“Since we released the app, the development of eHealth has really taken off, and several new eHealth services have come from the 1177 Health Care Guide, which we see as very positive. We therefore choose to shortly shut down the Asthma and Allergy app to be able to focus more on our other member services.” – Asthmaoallergiforbundet
The Swedish state’s integrated healthcare system can be personalised, and enables you to navigate care at local, regional and national level. It includes materials in a wide range of languages. It also offers self-management support and diaries to help manage conditions. Crucially, it integrates a nurse helpline for guidance, 24 hours a day.
Make clear where alternative support is available
In this case, the patient group made clear that the information is best covered by the national healthcare system. Also, the patient group reassures users about what content is still available from its website, and names contacts for questions and queries. In fairness, having an app replaced by a state-funded integrated healthcare online support and nurse helpline, is the probably best reason for withdrawal. If only other countries were resourced enough to let patient groups target their scarce resources on other priorities.