An Evaluation of Free Medical Applications for Android Smartphones
Introduction: The field of healthcare applications (apps) currently holds potential to improve the daily medical practice by implementing evidence-based healthcare tools. The purpose of this study was to describe the main characteristics of Android-based healthcare applications available in Google Play and to identify those applications that are evidence-based. Methods: The study was undertaken between the 1st of July and the 30th of August 2016. An evaluation form was developed to characterize the healthcare apps available in Google Play retrieved for the following keywords: (medical apps) and (evidence based medical apps) respectively. Only the free apps were considered eligible for the purpose of our study. Besides the general characteristics, several criteria with regards to interactivity, functionality, esthetics, contents, benefits, as well as evidence-based aspects were considered. Results: A number of 147 healthcare apps were displayed based on the used keywords and were included in the analysis. 42 of them were excluded due to the need for payment, malfunction after installation or games/animations that used medical terms. The remaining 105 apps were then analyzed by the evaluation criteria established in the research protocol. This study shows that until this point, mobile medical applications are mostly designed for consumers or medical students and less for medical professionals. 2 medical application include evidence based medical information and 19 applications were developed in this direction. The majority of the applications were developed in USA. 60% of the analyzed applications have the capacity of improving the quality of medical care. Conclusions: We found only 2 "ideal" mobile medical applications that brought together all the requirements that every application designed for medical use should fulfill.
Mobile applications, Healthcare, Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), Smartphone, Google Play