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Health and Wellness Mobile App Vetting

There are numerous health and wellness applications (apps) currently available. While there may not be a right or wrong choice when selecting an app to use, individuals may want to think about several factors as they decide which app(s) would be a good fit for the intended user. Please consider the target population who will be using the app and review the following questions to help determine if an app is evidence-informed, provides accurate information, and is user friendly.

Please see the information sheet for examples and details to help answer the screener questions.

Download Information Sheet

Brief Screener Considerations:

  1. Credibility – Does the app come from a known and trusted source? Does the app identify funding sources and conflicts of interest?
  2. Validity –Does the app contain evidence-informed content?
  3. Privacy – Is there a transparent privacy policy or terms of service that is clear and accessible?
  4. Security – Does the account require a strong password? Is Two Factor Authentication (2FA) enabled?
  5. Operability – Does the app work across different operating systems or platforms such as Apple, Android, and desktop versions?
  6. Accessibility – Is the app accessible for those who have disabilities?

For a more in-depth evaluation of an app, or to help select between two or more apps, please consider the following:

Expanded Screener Considerations:

  1. How often is the app updated? When was the app last updated?
  2. Does the app explain its security features, including collection, storage, and transmission of data?
  3. Is the data that the app is asking for something that the user is comfortable sharing?
  4. Do users own their data, and can users opt out of data collection or delete data?
  5. Can users download/export or backup their own data?
  6. Can/does the app share data with other apps, networks, or medical record systems?
  7. Is the app easy to use?
  8. Does it look like the app will keep the user active and engaged?
  9. Is app content well written and relevant?
  10. Is the app content free from bias?
  11. Does the app state that it is not a replacement for traditional therapy, medical advice, or medical treatment?
  12. Can the user opt out of personalized ads, if desired?
  13. Is the price structure transparent and free of hidden costs?
  14. Are contact details, including technical support, listed?
  15. Are there any other considerations to keep in mind for the target user?

There is no specific number of criteria that an app must meet to be considered “good” or “helpful.” An app may meet all of the above considerations, but it still may not be the best app for the user. For example, an app may require an extensive amount of time to complete activities or tracking logs, and a person may decide not to use this app. Or the app may meet few of the considerations, but it may be a good fit for the user. For example, a person may need assistance and the app is free and easy to use and they feel it is better to begin using an app now rather than do nothing to help their situation. The purpose of these questions is to give individuals enough information to help them make informed decisions about which app(s) might be useful for a particular situation.

Additional useful app-selection resources include the following:

For additional information, please call 1-877-382-9185 to speak with a Technical Assistance specialist.