Why apps are hard to evaluate and what we can do without it

Time: 13:00 - 14:00

Venue: Beyer Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Beyer Building, University of Manchester

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Digital Health Seminar: Why apps are hard to evaluate and what we can do without it 

Abstract: Most publicly available apps have not been evaluated in the scientific literature, and most apps evaluated in the scientific literature are not publicly available. Apps are difficult to evaluate for multiple reasons: they are complex interventions (but experienced holistically) that exist within a broader socio-technical context and which change rapidly. How can we improve the situation and ensure that a diverse world of health apps are evaluated appropriately? The talk will suggest three key approaches: (1) learning to speak a ‘foreign language’ of another discipline, so we know what we are all talking about; (2) formulating better policies for regulation and accreditation; (3) developing new methods better suited to apps.

Bio: Dr Henry Potts’ first position in health informatics was in 1999 at the UCL School of Public Policy. After a spell working for Cancer Research UK, he returned to UCL and is now an Associate Professor at the Institute of Health Informatics. He has worked on a range of technology evaluation studies, from decision support systems in screening mammography to using apps to track flu in the community. He has done consultancy work for tech start-ups and the General Medical Council. His current focus is on apps, with projects on developing new trial designs for apps, and using apps to promote physical activity in cancer. He is also in a team developing a virtual reality exercise game for adolescents. He has a particular interest in policy challenges and is working with the DigitalHealth London Evidence Generator initiative and with MedCity.