Purpose: To evaluate stand-alone mobile personal health record (mPHR) applications for the three leading cellular phone platforms (iOS, BlackBerry, and Android), assessing each for content, function, security, and marketing characteristics.
Methods: Nineteen stand-alone mPHR applications (8 for iOS, 5 for BlackBerry, and 6 for Android) were identified and evaluated. Main criteria used to include mPHRs were: operating standalone on a mobile platform; not requiring external connectivity; and covering a wide range of health topics. Selected mPHRs were analyzed considering product characteristics, data elements, and application features. We also reviewed additional features such as marketing tactics.
Results: Within and between the different mobile platforms attributes for the mPHR were highly variable. None of the mPHRs contained all attributes included in our evaluation. The top four mPHRs contained 13 of the 14 features omitting only the in-case-of emergency feature. Surprisingly, seven mPHRs lacked basic security measures as important as password protection. The mPHRs were relatively inexpensive: ranging from no cost to $9.99. The mPHR application cost varied in some instances based on whether it supported single or multiple users. Ten mPHRs supported multiple user profiles. Notably, eight mPHRs used scare tactics as marketing strategy.
Conclusion: mPHR is an emerging health care technology. The majority of existing mPHR apps is limited by at least one of the attributes considered for this study; however, as the mobile market continues to expand it is likely that more comprehensive mPHRs will be developed in the near future. New advancements in mobile technology can be utilized to enhance mPHRs by long-term patient empowerment features. Marketing strategies for mPHRs should target specific subpopulations and avoid scare tactics.
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