Is There a Good App for That? Evaluating m-Health Apps for Strategies That Promote Pediatric Medication Adherence

Telemed J E Health. 2016 Nov;22(11):929-937. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2015.0211. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


Background: Mobile health medication reminder apps may be a useful supplement to traditional adherence-promotion interventions for pediatric chronic illness populations because they can give real-time reminders and provide education and promote behavior modification (components known to enhance adherence in traditional interventions) in an engaging and developmentally acceptable way. Moreover, apps have the potential to be used by youth and parents, an important consideration given that shared involvement in condition management is associated with better adherence.

Introduction: This study evaluated the content and usability of existing medication reminder apps operating on the Apple platform.

Materials and methods: Two researchers coded 101 apps on 15 desirable reminder, educational, and behavioral modification features. Usability testing was conducted with the subset of apps (n = 8) that had the greatest number of content features using a validated measure.

Results: Apps contained an average of 4.21 of 15 content features, with medication reminder features being more common than either educational or behavioral modification features. Apps most commonly included a medication name storage feature (95%), a time-based reminder feature (87%), and a medication dosage storage feature (68%). Of the eight apps that had the highest number of content features, Mango Health, myRX Planner, and MediSafe evidenced the highest usability ratings. No apps identified were specifically designed for pediatric use.

Discussion: Most apps lacked content known to be useful in traditional pediatric adherence-promotion interventions. Greater attention to educational and behavioral modification features may enhance the usefulness of medication reminder apps for pediatric groups.

Conclusion: Collaborations between behavioral medicine providers and app developers may improve the quality of medication reminder apps for use in pediatric populations.

Keywords: behavioral health; e-health; m-health; pediatrics; pharmacy.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Reminder Systems / instrumentation
  • User-Computer Interface