Background: In Catalonia, the Fundació TIC Salut Social's mHealth Office created the AppSalut Site to showcase to mobile apps in the field of health and social services. Its primary objective was to encourage the public to look after their health. The catalogue allows primary health care doctors to prescribe certified, connected apps, which guarantees a safe and reliable environment for their use. The generated data can be consulted by health care professionals and included in the patient's clinical history. This document presents the intervention and the major findings following a five-month pilot project conducted in the Barcelona area.
Objective: The objective of the pilot study was to test, in a real, controlled environment, the implementation of AppSalut. Specifically, we tested whether (1) the procedures corresponding to the prescription, transmission, and evaluation of the data functions correctly, (2) users interact successfully and accept the tool, and (3) the data travels through existing pathways in accordance with international standards. The evaluation is not based on clinical criteria, but rather on the usability and technological reliability of the intervention and its implementation in the context of primary care.
Methods: The project was presented to the Primary Care Team participants to encourage the involvement of doctors. The study involved at least 5 doctors and 5 patients per professional, chosen at their discretion and in accordance with their own clinical criteria. An initial consultation took place, during which the doctor discussed the pilot project with the patient and recommended the app. The patient was sent a text message (SMS, short message service) containing an access code. When the patient arrived home, they accessed their personal health record (PHR) to view the recommendation, download the app, and enter the access code. The patient was then able to start using the app. The data was collected in a standardized manner and automatically sent to the system. In a second visit, the patient looked at the data with their doctor on their clinical station screen. The latter was able to consult the information generated by the patient and select what to include in their electronic health record. In order to assess the performance of the system, three focus groups were performed and two ad-hoc case-specific questionnaires, one for doctors and one for patients, were sent by email. Response was voluntary.
Results: A total of 32 doctors made 79 recommendations of apps to patients. On average, the patients uploaded data 13 times per prescribed app, accounting for a total of 16 different variables. Results show that data traveled through the established channels in an adequate manner and in accordance with international standards. This includes the prescription of an app by a doctor, the patient accessing the recommendation via the PHR, app download by the patient from the official app stores, linking of the patient to the public platform through the app, the generation and visualization of the data on the primary care workstation, and its subsequent validation by the clinician.
Conclusions: First, the choice of apps to be used is fundamental; the user's perception of the utility of the proposed tool being paramount. Second, thorough face-to-face support is vital for a smooth transition towards a more intense model of telemedicine. Last, a powerful limiting factor is the lack of control over people's ability to use the apps.
Keywords: apps; mHealth; mobile apps; primary health care; telemedicine; telemonitoring.
©Francesc Lopez Segui, Carme Pratdepadua Bufill, Nuria Abdon Gimenez, Jordi Martinez Roldan, Francesc Garcia Cuyas. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 21.06.2018.