The Health Navigator app library is a New Zealand-based website that aims to make it easier and safer for New Zealanders to identify useful and relevant health apps.
The Health Navigator NZ website is a non-profit community initiative combining the efforts of a wide range of partner and supporter organisations overseen by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust. The Health Navigator website provides one place for New Zealanders to find reliable and trustworthy health information and self-care resources. It focuses on promoting clear, consistent messages that enable users to get the information they need at the time they need it. Three years ago Health Navigator identified the need to develop a New Zealand based health app library to give New Zealanders direction when choosing apps to help manage their health. This initiative is now being developed with the Ministry of Health. To date over 90 apps have been independently reviewed using the selection and review process below.
App selection process
Apps are added in clusters pertaining to a specific clinical area. Categories are usually based on in-house requests from the Health Navigator editorial team, external requests from clinicians and consumers and searching other independent app review websites.
Once a clinical area has been identified, a search is undertaken to ascertain which apps to include. A formal literature search is done to identify studies that have assessed individual apps or categories of apps. We also search other independent app review websites and undertake a general Google search for app reviews. At this stage, a literature search is also done to assist in identifying useful features and criteria to assess apps within a specific clinical category (for example, functionality features desirable in medication reminder apps).
Following the search above and based on the app description, the apps are downloaded and an initial review is done to assess their potential usefulness. Main inclusion criteria are that the app must have an English language option, and should be widely available rather than have restricted access. Both New Zealand and non-New Zealand based apps are included. We mainly include free apps but also consider some paid apps. During the internal review, the features, functionality and information quality of the app are assessed bearing in mind the main purpose of the app and its target audience. In addition, the relevance to a New Zealand audience is assessed and a summary of the Pros and Cons or likes and dislikes of the app are created.
Once an app is deemed to be potentially useful during the internal review, a clinical review is done. This is done by a health professional working in the area of interest. This review aims to gauge the clinical value of the app, its relevance and highlights any safety issues. Apps that are deemed to be clinically unsafe, or potentially harmful to the user are excluded. Apps are excluded if the risks of using this app are deemed to be greater than the benefits. Other reasons for excluding apps include incomplete content, functionality issues and concerning security or privacy issues. The app name and the reason for exclusion are documented on the app category overview page.
The following figure gives an overview of the app selection process.
App review process
The app review process comprises 4 main steps — overall review, clinical review, NZ relevance and user review.
We are grateful to also have the expertise and input from a wide range of clinical, business and consumer advisors. These include:
- Assoc Prof Duncan Babbage, AUT
- Judy Blakey, Consumer Rep
- Julie Carter and the Community Liaison Dietitians, ADHB
- Judy Eves, Ministry of Health
- Rebecca Grainger, Univ of Otago
- Megan Grant, Ministry of Health
- James Greenwell, Ministry of Health
- Alan Holmes, Health Alliance
- Kylie Head, Consumer advisor
- Dr Michelle Honey, Univ of Auckland
- Gayl Humphrey, Univ of Auckland
- Amio Ikihele, Univ of Auckland
- Peter Murgatroyd, Library Manager, Counties Manukau Health Library
- Sarah Tibby, Health Alliance
- Lisa Toi, Independent digital health consultant
- Assoc Prof Robyn Whittaker, Univ of Auckland, WDHB
Are you a health professional and would like to participate in the health app project?
Drop us an email: email@example.com
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