Careful considerations for mHealth app development: lessons learned from QuestExplore

Mhealth. 2022 Jul 20:8:24. doi: 10.21037/mhealth-21-51. eCollection 2022.


Background: Mobile health (mHealth) applications (app) have proven to be useful in gathering symptom data for a variety of populations living with chronic and serious illnesses. These mHealth tools have been built for a variety of populations but can quickly lose their novelty over time due to the lack of changes and engagement between the mHealth tool and the user. High costs, constantly changing timelines, and difficulties in building compliant data storage systems are some of the reasons why mHealth development and implementation can be a challenge.

Methods: Our team's tool, QuestExplore (QE), was built in collaboration with healthcare providers, child-life specialists, a music therapist, mobile app developers, data specialists, cyber security specialists, researchers, and children living with chronic illnesses alongside their families. Through this process, our team learned various ways to reduce costs, streamline the app development process, and build compliant data storage systems. In addition, our frequent interactions with stakeholders provided us with the ability to continuously make improvements, to build an engaging mHealth app.

Results: Based upon our findings, our team needed to include prompting, condensing, gamification, data visualizations, and an engaging user design in the remodel of QE. Through a three-stage process of redesigning our previous symptom monitoring apps, QE was developed to better communicate between our users and their providers, with the overall hope of improving symptom management of these children.

Conclusions: In the paper, we aim to explain how our team developed QE with feedback from our stakeholders, while also continuously improving our development process through the lessons we gained through the app's development. QE is now being used in both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will soon be implemented in Amsterdam University Medical Center.

Keywords: Mobile health (mHealth); app development; developing mobile health apps; healthcare apps; mobile application development.