Research Raises Questions About App Usability, Accessibility

Greg Slabodkin | Health Data Management | August 5, 2016

While mobile health apps have the potential to help patients better manage their chronic conditions, consumers that would benefit most—the poor and minorities—are not able to access and use the technology to realize the benefits. That’s the finding of a new observational study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine researching the impact of apps developed to enable adults to manage their chronic conditions.

According to David Bates, MD, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and co-author of the article, the objective of the study was to investigate the usability and accessibility of mHealth apps for diabetes, depression and caregiving in low-income, racially and ethnically diverse populations.

Researchers observed 26 patients who used 11 of the most popular health apps (four for diabetes, four for depression, and three for caregiving) on iPad and Android tablets. As many as 60 percent of the participants were African American, 27 percent were white, 8 percent were Asian, and another 8 percent were Latino, while nearly 70 percent were deemed to have limited health literacy...