Over 90 Health Apps Reviewed for Usefulness and Safety

- Jul 2018

Mobile apps are made to support lifestyle, disease management, mental wellbeing and behavior change, but how do you know if they work, or they are safe to use?  

With over 300,000 health apps available from app stores, and only peer to peer reviews often being the most reliable recommendation, users can struggle to find the app that’s not only right for them, but also clinically sound.

The NZ Health App Library seeks to remedy this. The project, initiated by Kylie Head, is housed on the Health Navigator website. The library uses a simple scoring system to assist people accessing the information, including a definitive pros and cons list for each app.  Factors such as privacy and security, are also reviewed.

“We have worked with community members and experts to develop a comprehensive review process and, so far, over 90 apps have been reviewed across more than 30 categories from alcohol use to sun safety,” says Health Navigator’s clinical director Dr Janine Bycroft.

This resource is easy to navigate, giving both clinicians and users an easy way to find what app best suits them. There is a Health Apps A – Z menu, as well as categories such as fitness and weight loss apps, mental health and well-being apps, quit smoking apps, New Zealand-based apps, to name a few. Each category and app have links to additional resources specific to the app and the topic concerned.

It is also an ever evolving and collaborative resource; clinicians and consumers can seek guidance for an app evaluation using the app assessment document developed by the Ministry of Health. Alternatively, they can apply to the Health Navigator team who can conduct an internal review.

Dr Bycroft says she is interested in hearing from health professionals who have a patient success story regarding the use of an app, or a health app they would like reviewed.

“We would love to hear from you. Likewise, if you have an interest in apps and would be willing to review apps in your area of expertise, please contact us,” Dr Bycroft says

 The Health Navigator NZ website is a non-profit community initiative combining the efforts of a wide range of partner and supporter organisations overseen by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust. The Health Navigator website provides one place for New Zealanders to find reliable and trustworthy health information and self-care resources. It focuses on promoting clear, consistent messages that enable users to get the information they need at the time they need it.