The quality and safety of apps for asthma and diabetes

North West London
Start Date: 1 Jan 2014 End Date: 31 Mar 2015

Project aim

To explore issues relating to the quality and safety of apps for asthma and diabetes (as representative long-term conditions) that will affect the viability of current plans to introduce them ‘on prescription’ into primary and long-term condition care in the English NHS.

Outcome & Impact statement

Major contribution is in greater understanding of quality and safety issues arising from the new field of mobile health with concrete implications for implementation plans.

For example, at a high level, study findings point to broad-based quality issues affecting the content of information-containing apps for self-management education. These have broad relevance for clinical programmes in which apps may be being considered – emphasising the need for due diligence and testing when selecting apps – but also contribute to discussions about what role there might be for accreditation and regulation of apps by, for example, the likes of Apple and Google who substantially control the app marketplace. So far, findings have been disseminated through publication and conference routes and have contributed to discussion in the form of commissioned commentaries and online debate. Last year, I was the recipient of a prize at the Centre for Science and Policy Conference (Whitehall, April 10) in being able to demonstrate the relevance and potential impact of the work at a policy level.

Data generated by the research also expose the detail of specific issues, for example, novel safety risks arising from personal medication calculator apps that, for the first time, are being distributed globally without regard to local medical conventions or safety regulation. These have relevance for guidelines and regulations currently under development and recently I have been invited to contribute to discussions about accreditation by the NHS App Store.

Dr Josip Car