Dimensions of quality for mobile applications in chronic disease management

Shaw, J (NPI); Brown, E; Fremont, P; Hofer, S; Agarwal, P; Borycki, E; Kushniruk, A; Witteman, H; Bhatia, R; Clark, B; Griffith, J; Jamieson, T; Lamothe, L; Springhall, E

While the number of systematic reviews which evaluate mobile applications for chronic disease management has grown substantially in the past 2 years, these approaches require long timescales for evaluation and often involve randomization to achieve highly specific results. Based on these practices, these studies neglect to consider elements of the ecological validity and adoption in daily life. In the absence of regulation for creating or releasing a health app, many apps included in these reviews are also likely poor quality and may put patients at risk regarding their security and clinical outcomes. InĀ response to this, researchers have begun to evaluate mobile applications based on pre-defined lists of quality criteria which are applicable in very short timeframes. These studies generally involved searching online markets and platforms for mobile applications (e.g., iTunes), identifying and using several popular applications, and applying the pre-defined criteria to provide judgments on their quality. The rise of studies evaluating mobile applications in this way raises questions about the range of criteria being used to judge their quality. In order to fully realize the potential of mobile technologies to improve chronic care management, health systems require clearly validated methods for selecting and evaluating the quality of apps. As no systematic assessment of these quality criteria has yet been conducted, a systematic assessment of these criteria is important in order to comment on the applicability of these studies and to improve the role of these studies in clinical decision-making and health system planning. Our scoping study will review the literature assessing mobile applications via direct reviews of application function, and will identify the key indicators of quality of mobile applications for clinical use in the management of chronic conditions that have been identified in research literature. We will also assess how these criteria compare to (a) principles user-centered design and (b) frameworks for the implementation and adoption of mobile applications.