The Business Case For Rigorous Evaluation Of Mobile Health Apps

Published in: Health Affairs (2021). doi: 10.1377/hblog20210826.547352

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2021

by Claire E. O'Hanlon, Shira H. Fischer, Erika Litvin Bloom

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The mobile health app industry (also known as mHealth) is booming. App developers are hoping to engage users in health behavior change, including weight loss and smoking cessation, and are also targeting mental health concerns such as anxiety. Although many of these apps claim to be science-based, rigorous data on their efficacy or outcomes are scant. Researchers have developed numerous frameworks, tools, and criteria for evaluating them, and consumer-based evaluations such as app store star ratings are misleading at best. Without rigorous evaluation, it will be impossible to distinguish apps with the potential to transform human health from those that more closely resemble 21st-century snake oil.

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