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May 06, 2016 06:42 AM EDT

Are Medical Apps Medically Tested?

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Anyone has their own health concern. And many of them seek diagnosis from downloaded apps - which may not have been medically reviewed.

The University of California, Davis, claims that there are 165,000 of mobile apps in health care niche available today. The categories are varied from suicide prevention to managing addiction. These mobile device applications can be downloaded from App Store or Play Store; and some have not gone through scientific reviews.

According to a medical research by the Black Dog Institute, Sydney, as published in Ncbi, there is a gap between the application and the research evidence. For instance, there are 120 apps for suicide prevention but only 49 of them contain more than one suicide prevention feature. The journal also finds that the apps are 'best practice' but not supported by evidence. Many of them are identified as 'potentially harmful'. According to the researchers, as published in Plos One journal, safety apps such as MoodTools and SafetyNet are found to be 'most comprehensive'.

Jennifer Nicholas, one of the researchers at Black Dog Institute, explains that while no one exactly knows if an app is actually effective; consumers are using them anyway. The issue becomes serious as Nicholas tested a few apps and found only eight are truly effective. Apparently the eight apps are not available to the public.

John Torous from Harvard Medical School describes this plethora as the 'Wild West of healthcare'. The psychiatrist said that patients and experts might know what type of question to ask when they take medications but they do not know what to ask about the app itself. Torous also encourages patients to seek comment from their physicians about the app they are using. As for the experts, they need to consider every aspect to evaluate an application. Medical app has to have ASPECTS to decide its comprehensiveness, that is Actionable, Secure, Professional, Evidence-Based, Customizable and Transparent.

© 2017 University Herald, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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