March 15, 2016
Rising ownership of smartphones and tablets across social and demographic groups has made mobile applications, or apps, a potentially promising tool for engaging patients in their health care, particularly those with high health care needs. Through a systematic search of iOS (Apple) and Android app stores and an analysis of apps targeting individuals with chronic illnesses, this issue brief assesses the degree to which apps are likely to be useful in patient engagement efforts. Usefulness was determined based on the following criteria: description of engagement, relevance to the targeted patient population, consumer ratings and reviews, and most recent app update. Among the 1,046 health care–related, patient-facing applications identified by this search, 43 percent of iOS apps and 27 percent of Android apps appeared likely to be useful. They also developed criteria for evaluating the patient engagement, quality, and safety of mobile apps.