Beware of health apps for smartphones that are not approved

The e-health sector is a flourishing sector that benefits application developers: some 90,000 e-health solutions have been launched this year alone, or 250 per day. the snag is that very few are the subject of clinical validation. French researchers have designed a multi-domain scoring tool that allows them to be evaluated.

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Some recent developments in medicine may be reminiscent of what one can read or see in science fiction books or films.

The apps ofe-health are they reliable? They represent a real lode and their number is exponential on download platforms. However, only 21% of them are subject to medical validation before they are put online, according to a French study. Health digital is growing.

On the IOS interfaces and android, the number of applications dedicated to e-health doubled between 2013 and 2020, reaching 327,000 applications. In 2020 alone, more than 250 e-health solutions were added to application stores every day, i.e. 90,000 in the year “, explain the researchers in their study published in the Journal Of Medicine.

But beware, not all are equal. According to specialists, 64% of applications are not subject to scientific validation before being accessible. Only 21% of applications have been the subject of a randomized study, the highest degree to demonstrate their effectiveness.

“A clear margin for improvement”

To carry out their study, the researchers created a scoring tool called Medical Digital Solution (MDS), consisting of 26 questions. It is based on recognized criteria such as those of the French National Authority for Health (HAS) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). It is aimed at developers, investors and hospital decision makers. Via the social network Linkedin, the specialists sent this questionnaire to the developers.

A total of 68 apps have been assessed. Of these, 22% are oncology applications and 22% general health solutions; 47% of applications rely on the remote monitoring by health professionals.

Our study shows that there is a clear margin for improvement! Patient associations want transparent information on the clinical usefulness of these tools and they are right. Ratings need to be strengthened, especially for developers seeking reimbursement for their app “, underlines Pr Denis, president of the National Institute of e-health at the origin of this study.

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