A recommended guideline for the development of mHealth Apps

Mhealth. 2016 May 18;2:21. doi: 10.21037/mhealth.2016.05.01. eCollection 2016.


Background: Mobile Health or mHealth applications cope with medical or health issues supported by smartphones. Being a part of great importance in healthcare, mHealth apps are able to improve both the quality of medical services and the safety of the patients. It is regarded to be a new field with great prospect that attracts the interest of the stakeholders and the developers, above all. Of all the entities involved, developers have to face many challenges classified in four pillars: the regulation framework, the market, the technical issues and society. This paper aims to describe the role of the developers in the mHealth apps' market, the barriers they deal with and also, the impact of their work in the mobile healthcare domain. In our viewpoint, we propose a guideline with all of the developers' requirements for the buildup of mHealth apps.

Methods: The methodology followed includes a Boolean search strategy used in academic libraries (PubMed, IEEE Xplore, JMIR, The Cochrane Library) and search engines additionally (Google and Google Scholar), aiming to identify the developers' perspective.

Results: Our research from October until December of 2014 led us to academic papers referring to the various demands that developers have to confront. The major outcome of our research is the general acknowledgement of the dominant role that developers own in the mHealth apps' process.

Conclusions: Mobile technology allies multiple groups such as users, patients, providers of medical services, software developers, governments and even, non-governmental organizations. In particular, the developers' perspective involves the legal boundaries, the side of the market, the technological requirements (programming, devices, designing) and the moral aspects, as well. Developers should define the purposes of their apps-either diagnostic or therapeutic-and gain the confidence of the users in order to dominate the market, yet comply with the regulations.