Research on the accuracy of diagnostic healthcare apps

Telehealth software has changed the patient-provider communication and now more people turn to their phone or laptop for a medical diagnosis. But, some industry experts believe that consumers are unable to decide which apps are more effective.

WebMD is the most frequently accessed health website after, which says that 75 million unique users access its website and mobile apps every month. But, according to a study published by an open access journal, Diagnosis it’s not clear whether consumers are accessing false or factual health information because these digital health tools haven’t been evaluated sufficiently.

The researchers conducted a review of 36 evaluations of medical apps. Most of these evaluations examined the sites and apps that were meant to diagnose conditions based on symptoms the users selected or images that are uploaded by the users.

These apps gave advice that varied widely thus, weren’t accurate. Researchers used sensitivity (ability to rule out a disease) and specificity (the ability to rule one in) as metrics. Few favorable results were shown by apps that diagnosed specific diseases. Apps linked to sensors did well.

Conclusively, more investment is needed to be devoted to the evaluation and research of consumer-facing diagnostic apps. Future evaluations need to be controlled by established standards.