Mobile applications (apps) to improve health are proliferating, but before healthcare providers or organizations can recommend an app to the patients they serve, they need to be confident the app will be user-friendly and helpful for the target disease or behavior. This paper summarizes seven strategies for evaluating and selecting health-related apps: (1) Review the scientific literature, (2) Search app clearinghouse websites, (3) Search app stores, (4) Review app descriptions, user ratings, and reviews, (5) Conduct a social media query within professional and, if available, patient networks, (6) Pilot the apps, and (7) Elicit feedback from patients. The paper concludes with an illustrative case example. Because of the enormous range of quality among apps, strategies for evaluating them will be necessary for adoption to occur in a way that aligns with core values in healthcare, such as the Hippocratic principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence.
Keywords: Application; Health behavior; Health promotion; Mobile health; e-health.