How useful is that health app?

News article

11 October 2017

There are many health apps on the market, and it can be difficult for clinicians or consumers to know which ones to recommend or use. A health app provides information, advice and feedback on health, fitness or wellbeing. It can be downloaded onto a smart phone or other mobile device.

Help is at hand though! The Ministry of Health, with sector stakeholders, has developed Guidance on Evaluating or Developing a Health App.

The guidance document focuses on two key areas.

  • Section 1: Guidance for clinicians and consumers – key points to consider for:
    • clinicians if consumers ask about the effectiveness of a health app or if you wish to recommend an app to them
    • consumers wondering how to select an appropriate app to improve your health or wellbeing.
  • Section 2: Guidance for app developers – key points to consider before deciding to develop a new health app.

A second piece of work, to provide an assessment framework for clinical apps, is underway.

Using the tools or frameworks outlined in Guidance on Evaluating or Developing a Health App, you can also undertake app reviews yourself. However, if you have an app that has an English language option, is widely available with unrestricted access, and the description and images indicate potential usefulness, you could apply to the Health Navigator team who may conduct an internal review. Contact form is available on the Health Navigator website.

The Health Navigator website also has a library of consumer-facing health apps that have been reviewed by the Health Navigator review team and an independent health professional. The library is funded by the Ministry of Health. The purpose of the library is not to recommend apps or approve them but to provide clinicians and consumers with a selection of apps and enough information to decide whether the app is likely to meet their needs.

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