Quality and Safety in Medical Apps

I’ve been building a list of Medical Apps for my NHS Library service, with a view to publishing them on our website as ‘Recommended Medical Apps’, and for the most part I’ve been using well known names/companies/brands etc as a way of choosing the apps, but mostly out of habit rather than the thought that other apps might not be reliable.

This article points out that as few as 12% (12-35% depending on study cited) of medical apps – that is apps that can be used by medical professionals as evidence citations or even as medical tools/equipment – have a doctor’s (or other medical expert’s) input in the development of the app. To me, that’s just scary!

That’s aside from the fact that the medical advice they use to develop the app may not be updated as evidence changes over time, so even if they had a medical professional’s input at the start of development, in a few years that information could be outdated, or worse, considered dangerous.

With some studies (cited in the paper) suggesting that over 85% of medical professionals have smartphones and between 30-50% of them are using medial apps in clinical care it begs the question: should we, as Health Librarians, be covering Medical Apps in our Critical Appraisal and ‘finding evidence’ training sessions?

Thanks to The Krafty Librarian for bringing this to my attention!

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