Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study: For Now, Web-Based Healthcare Tools [and Possibly Health Apps] Are Mostly Ineffective [With Links to Reviewed Health Apps For All]]

Health apps designed for the general population have potential in tracking health indicators (as food eaten, glucose levels) and also  communicating information and support among users. For example, Spark People  provides answers from dietitians & fitness trainers on message boards. One may connect with other members in support teams.

While it is very easy to find Health apps (iTunes, I believe,  is the largest supplier), it is very challenging to find easy to use apps that have been professionally reviewed.  The article below highlights one drawback of most present web-based healthcare tools- usability. It seems highly likely, that by extension, that health care apps are largely lacking in usability also.

Here are a few resources I used to create short lists of reputable easy to use health apps.

  • Hasman, Linda An Introduction to Consumer Health Apps for the iPhone Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet2011 Oct-Dec, 15(4):322-329.  “The 19 apps listed in this article are culled from approximately 350,000 total apps”.
     [Article available by subscription only,  I got this (for free!) through the interlibrary loan dept at my local library, it contains about 19 good sites, some I will add to my health apps page]
  • iMedicalapps – Medical Librarians corner iMedicalapps includes medical app reviews and commentary by medical professionals
    The Medical Librarians corner included these great resources

Study: For Now, Web-Based Healthcare Tools Are Mostly Ineffective

From the 13 January 2012 ReadWriteWeb column

study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association accents the limits of web-based health management tools that are currently available.

Researchers focused specifically on tools for managing diabetes, but the drawbacks could extend to other tools designed to help patients do everything from lose weight to quit smoking. The study concluded that “despite their abundance, few practical web-accessible tools exist.” In many case, the tools suffered from poor design that made them difficult to use….

….Of the 92 web tools analyzed in the study, 60% had three or more usability errors, included limited use of visual interaction and navigation that was not intuitive. Just 6% had no usability errors..

..The study recommended companies offering such tools work on improving attrition, standardizing quality indicators and making indicators transparent for patients and doctors choosing the best web-based tool.

“Web-based tools have the potential to improve health outcomes and complement healthcare delivery, but their full potential is hindered by limited knowledge about their effectiveness, high prevalence of usability errors and high attrition rates,” Yu wrote….

One of the biggest problems facing web-based health tools is patients often use them inconsistently.

January 25, 2012 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | ,

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