Medical Apps -Finding a needle in a haystack of needles


By Eric R Anderson MD, PhD

As smartphone technology becomes more ubiquitous, the expectations of the users increases. In the “Mobile Usage in the Medical Space 2013” report, only 28% of smartphone users, and only 18% of tablet users were “very satisfied” with the quality of clinical apps for their profession.  Since this time, a handful of medical organizations have taken it upon themselves to either recommend or showcase medical applications for their membership. For example, the American College of Cardiology provides 12 apps for their membership that encompasses guidelines, practice recommendations, and informational or reference materials. 
However, outside of medical organizations and their respective information pipelines, it is difficult to identify pertinent medical apps for clinical use.  Recent estimates cite more than 100,000 health or medical related apps spread across 3 different app stores (Google play, Windows, and Apple).  The sheer volume of apps means that medical professionals are unable to individually sift through the rapidly growing volume of new and potentially relevant and useful clinical apps.  Indeed, many physicians state that they rely on word of mouth from their peers for medical app recommendations. 
Until recently, the only way to discover new medical apps for clinical use was through society newsletters, painstakingly sifting and trailing new apps through the various app stores, or by reading recommendations from a handful of physicians who may or may not even use the apps in question.  With the advent of , an app discovery tool specifically configured towards medical and health apps, medical professionals can finally find apps recommended by their peers.  The simple to use online tool searches several different app stores for medical apps and displays them in an easy to read format and relies on crowdsourced medical reviews for rankings.  Furthermore, these apps can be subdivided based on their use.  Currently, apps can be searched for based on whether they are used in clinical assessment, treatment, information or reference, and diary or tracking. 
While this resource is relatively new, it is free to use and can be employed by medical professionals to recommend medical apps to their peers, and to discover medical apps that may be useful in their clinical practice.  As more and more providers utilize this tool and leave reviews, it will become an increasingly powerful tool for medical app discovery and can serve as a foundation for making critical choices in the implementation of a clinical digital health strategy.

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