App developers - guidance

Are you developing or thinking of developing a health app? The following New Zealand and international resources may be helpful.

In New Zealand and internationally there is currently a lack of clear and accepted standards for the development (planning, requirement analysis and research, design and application testing) of apps for medical and healthcare use. This poses different challenges and risks to developers, providers, patients and the public. The following New Zealand and international resources provides some guidance on aspects to consider when developing mobile health apps.

On this page you will find information on:

Also see App evaluation models and assessment tools.

New Zealand resources

Resource Description
Guidance on evaluating or developing a health app
Ministry of Health
An overview document that outlines key points to consider before deciding to develop a new health app. Read more
Apps guidance 
Privacy Commissioner 
This website provides developers with guidance on how to will handle information they collect and generate and also details how the Privacy Act applies to developers. Also see Making app privacy your advantage
Digital Health Strategy 
Ministry of Health 
The Ministry of Health is developing a Digital Health Strategy to guide the use of digital technologies in New Zealand's health system. Read more
NZ Digital Government 
New Zealand Government 
This website has information for government agencies, to support their digital transformation. It includes information on standards and guidance

Other resources

Resource Description
HL7 Consumer Mobile Health Application Functional Framework (CMHAFF)
HL7 Mobile Health Workgroup
This framework is based on the lifecycle of an app, as experienced by an individual consumer, from first deciding to download an app, to determining what happens with consumer data after the app has been deleted from a smartphone. It is important to note that the Framework does not speak directly to the specific health or clinical functionality of an app but can be extended to do so through the use of profiles (with constraints and/or extensions) developed on top of cMHAFF.
Health Developer Network
NHS, United Kingdom
The NHS has a library of 'approved' health apps. To be included in the library, apps have to undergo a stringent review process. The Health developer network website has information and tools to help developers create software for health and social care. Also see Digital Assessment Questions for sample assessment questions. 
Evidence standards framework for digital technologies 
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 
United Kingdom
This document outlines standards to make it easier for innovators and commissioners to understand what good levels of evidence for digital healthcare technologies look like, while meeting the needs of the health and care system, patients, and users. Read more 
Guidelines for creating healthy living apps
VicHealth, Australia
This guide is for people interested in creating apps that improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for users. It is for both those new to developing apps with little software development knowledge, and those new to working in health promotion or behaviour change, and includes a useful checklist for developing an app. Read more
App development roadmap
NHS Innovations South East, United Kingdom
This provides basic, easy-to-follow guidance on app development and commercialisation of the app. Read more   
Mobile medical applications 
FDA, United States
This website provides information on mobile medical apps and the FDA's policy on the regulation of mobile medical apps. Read more
Mobile health apps interactive tool 
Federal Trade Commission,
United States
This information is targeted to app developers creating an app for use in the United States.  It outlines the federal laws that apply. Although not largely applicable to New Zealand developers, it has some useful information on points to consider. Read more
Designing health literate mobile apps
Institute of Medicine, United States
This discussion paper describes how to apply both usability and health
literacy strategies throughout the app development process. The authors describe a blend of health literacy and usability-improving strategies that can help developers build health literate apps, and include a case study in mHealth design from a 2012 mobile app challenge. Read more

Co-design in health app development

Co-design is a method for partnering with patients, consumers and users right from the beginning of planning to ensure a closer alignment of what will work best for users. Read more about co-design. The following articles may give some insight into co-design in health app and online resource development: 

Learn more

Magrabi F, Habli I, Sujan M, Wong D , et al. Why is it so difficult to govern mobile apps in healthcare? BMJ Health Care Inform. 2019 Nov

Van Velthoven MH, Smith J, Wells G, Brindley D. Digital health app development standards: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open. 2018 Aug

Schnall R, Rojas M, Bakken S, et al. A user-centered model for designing consumer mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps). J Biomed Inform. 2016 Apr;60:243-51

How to design an award winning health app Australian Digital Health Agency

Did you find this information useful?

Last reviewed: 07 Jan 2019