mHealth apps and mHealth repositories

The mHealth apps project aims to determine stakeholder (clinicians, patients, healthcare systems, regulators, insurers, developers) needs in terms of information and evidence to find, assess, approve, prescribe and determine coverage for mHealth apps for uptake by patients and clinicians. 


Principal investigator: Rosanna Tarricone 

Team UB/Cergas: Helen Banks (CeRGAS) 

Duration: May 2022-ongoing  


Digital technologies are rapidly changing healthcare decision-making and the way healthcare is organized, delivered, and monitored. Among digital technologies, the market for digital health applications (apps) for smartphones and tablets has expanded and changed significantly over the last few years, growing from a majority of apps targeting wellness (e.g., for exercise and fitness, stress management, diet and nutrition) to disease- and condition- specific mHealth apps aimed at informing care or affecting or improving a health condition, and as such are targeted for use by both healthcare professionals and patients. However, mHealth apps present particular challenges for stakeholders - such as governments, insurers, and regulators, but also clinicians, patients and the app producers themselves - not only in keeping track of the number, scope and availability of the literally thousands of mHealth apps on offer, but also their relative safety, quality and reliability. 

The objectives for the study are: i) create a simple mHealth app collection and evaluation tool to gather and evaluate essential information on single mHealth apps that could serve the needs of stakeholders from patients and clinicians to health care systems; ii) map existing classification systems and/or databases for mHealth apps according to the criteria from the first phase and from the literature on repositories and frameworks for evaluating mHealth apps, clinical trials of mHealth apps, and the domains commonly used in Health Technology Assessment (HTA). 

The project is articulated in: 

  1.  a scoping review of the scientific literature on mHealth apps to identify evaluation frameworks and any governmental or private repositories, databases, resources or libraries that collect and evaluate mHealth apps;  

  1. Analysis of mHealth app trials with results and HTA domains, in addition to the results from the scoping review, for inclusion in a broad template of key elements related to mHealth apps that should be addressed in mHealth app libraries. 

  1. Mapping of the existing (and some discontinued) mHealth app libraries or repositories and development of an assessment tool (comprised of synthetic scores on composite variables) to inform stakeholders. 

The ultimate goal is to provide a definitive mapping and evaluation of available resources for mHealth apps in the European context to serve the needs of users (clinicians and patients), regulators, and payers (health care systems, insurers) and identify potential gaps in the information provided by such libraries to guide future development of libraries and provide guidance for app developers.