Gut and Gastroenterology


The Practical Utility of Mobile Health Applications for Celiac Disease Patients

Author(s): Sunny Sandhu, MD*, Dhuha Alhankawi, MD, Amitpaul Gill, MD, Aalam Sohal, MD, Marina Roytman, MD, Thimmaiah Theethira, MD

Objective: Celiac disease affects about 3 million people in the United States, and requires lifelong patient education and treatment. Advances in technology have led to the development of over 300,000 healthcare mobile applications. However, there is no regulation on the quality of these mobile health applications, which can impact patient care. We performed a qualitative analysis of mobile applications available for celiac disease patients. 
Design: The terms “celiac” and “celiac disease” were used to identify mobile health applications related to CD on the Apple and Google Play Store. Only patient-oriented applications for disease self-management and education were included. Application quality was evaluated with Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS), a reliable tool for rating the quality of mobile health applications. Health information in applications was evaluated using DISCERN, a validated tool to assess quality of written health information. 
Results: Of the 294 applications on the Google Play Store and 106 apps on the Apple Store, 17 met our criteria. The mean MARS score was 3.24/5, indicating acceptable application quality. The mean DISCERN score was 2.74/5, signifying potentially important or serious shortcomings to the quality of health information. Apps developed by healthcare providers (HCP) had higher average MARS and DISCERN scores compared to those developed by non-HCP. “My Healthy Gut” scored highest with MARS of 4.28 and DISCERN 3.90. 
Conclusion: Although tremendous potential for mobile health applications exists, the quality varies drastically. Applications created by HCPs appear to be superior. The quality of health information in applications remains an area for improvement. HCPs can serve a big role in shaping future applications, and we encourage further contribution to their ongoing developments.

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