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Why use this app?

Day 1of 26 questions from Denise Silber of Doctors 2.0.

What concrete steps can you take so that your next digital health tool (app, community, newsletter,…) will be of long lasting interest to the end user?

The question reminded me of this presentation I had last year at the World Congress of Cardiology.


I included here a paper by West et al. There’s an App for That: Content Analysis of Paid Health and Fitness Apps from the Journal of Medical Internet Research. They classified apps according to the Precede-Proceed Model.



West et al found only 62 apps that addressed all three: predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors.  One may argue that maybe it’s too much for an app to address all three. Of these three, which could be the most important? Why is there a dearth of apps that offer reinforcing factors?


In this presentation I also discussed the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics 2013 report on patient apps, Patient Apps for Improved Healthcare: From Novelty to Mainstream

Check out the bottom part of this slide. I like the idea that use of an app can lead to an intervention, where the doctor and patient evaluate the data gathered by the app together. We did discuss though in a previous #HealthXPh tweet chat how this can possibly prolong the clinic visit, which raised the question if doctors will actually be willing to do this. Of course, it may be a different scenario IF the doctor actually prescribed the app.


Lastly from this same report, apps were classified according to its place in the patient journey. I think that’s a lovely way to situate apps by grounding it on the patient’s experience of care. And I can imagine that perhaps for a certain disease, there will be a suite of apps, an app for each step in the patient’s journey as seen below.


So to answer the question. I think that when apps are designed, there should be more insight as to what factors it addresses in influencing health behavior (i.e. Precede-Proceed model). Designing the app with an intent to bring the doctor and patient together to make better clinical decisions, may make the app more useful in the long run. And that perhaps, a suite of apps for different stages of the patient’s journey will be needed.

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