eHealth for the prevention of healthcare-associated infections: a scoping review

J Hosp Infect. 2021 Jul:113:96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2021.04.029. Epub 2021 May 3.


Background: The increase in smartphone use and mobile health applications (apps) holds potential to use apps to reduce and detect healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in clinical practice.

Aim: To obtain an overview of available apps for HAI prevention, by selecting the clinically relevant apps and scoring functionality, quality and usefulness.

Methods: This scoping review of available apps in the iOS and Android app stores uses an in-house-developed tool (scraper to systematically aggregate available apps relevant for HAI prevention. The apps are evaluated on functionality, assessed on quality using the 'Mobile Application Rating Scale' (MARS), and assessed on potential use in clinical infection prevention.

Findings: Using the scraper with CDC HAI topics through 146 search terms resulted in 92,726 potentially relevant apps, of which 28 apps met the inclusion criteria. The majority of these apps have the functionality to inform (27 of 28 apps) or to instruct (20/28). MARS scores for the 28 apps were high in the following domains: functionality (4.19/5), aesthetics (3.49/5), and information (3.74/5), with relatively low scores in engagement (2.97/5), resulting in a good average score (3.57/5).

Conclusion: Low engagement scores restrict apps that intend to inform or instruct, possibly explained by the often-academic nature of the development of these apps. Although the number of HAI prevention apps increased by 60% in 5 years, the proportion of clinically relevant apps is limited. The variation in HAI app quality and lack of user engagement, could be improved by co-creation and development in the clinical setting.

Keywords: Infection control healthcare-associated infections; eHealth; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Telemedicine*