How to Choose the Best Healthcare App

Choosing apps for your health care should be a well thought out process rather than just selecting the top search result in Google. Know how to select the right app for your health care which you can trust and use.

It might seem like no one these days has the time (or cares enough) to sort through the reviews and rating section of a dozen healthcare apps before they pick the best one, but when it's your health on the line, you might find that time is suddenly all you have to make sure today's mobile healthcare advantages are working for you.

To be sure, in an era of transformative healthcare, inexperienced medical app developers can end up building promising apps that just end up being duds functionally. Other times it's just a matter of the app not being right for the "shopping" user, who is looking for a specified level of 'care'.

That's why I wanted to pass along a few time-saving tricks on how to choose the best healthcare app before and after you've decided to give that healthcare app a test run:

How to Choose the Best Healthcare App


If you've never had to download a health app before, this article will be a great place to start. And even if you already have a few healthcare apps on your phone that have been working, it's always good to keep on the lookout for new or updated apps from the companies you're already loyal to--or even to ditch your current web or mobile healthcare apps and start from scratch.

Health is a completely personal thing, so being picky about how your eHealth apps are serving you is all a part of the industry's consumer-focused advantage: there are literally millions of healthcare apps out there to choose from.

Obviously, you can't download and try them all. And in this day and age of companies throwing up false reviews and skewing their personal ratings, it's hard to figure out where to make your first moves. That's why before downloading an app, you should first consider:

1. Asking around
It might seem obvious, but when I mention it, some people are left wondering why they didn't think of it before: ask the people and healthcare professionals in your life what healthcare apps work for them.

For instance, consulting your doctor, friends, or representatives at a local health-focused business - or even checking out health forums specific to the symptoms or diagnoses you're managing - could help you discover that perfect app that's right for you.

Maybe you find your local pharmacy has had an app developed to request prescription refills from home, or that there's an easily formatted app that will help you check in on your aging parents--either way, it's worth bringing up in conversation. And you'll find that most are eager to share their knowledge.

Some good questions to ask others might be:
  • What do you think would be a good assistive app for someone with my diagnosis?
  • What kinds of healthcare apps have you (or your patients) had the most luck with?
  • What do you like about the healthcare apps that you use?
  • Are there any healthcare apps you would recommend staying away from?
2. Asking yourself
Now that you've been given a headstart on what kinds of apps others are using, consider for a moment exactly what it is you want or need in a healthcare app. Are you looking to better connect with your doctor, or make medical insurance payments all-around easier to deal with? Or maybe you're looking to compare pharmacies or want to find in-home healthcare. Either way, it's a great idea to write down and visualize what you're looking for--that way, you'll know what you will and won't compromise on later.

Here are some great priorities for determining what kind of healthcare app features you want:
  • Easy contact with medical professionals close-by (geolocation)
  • Symptom trackers
  • Healthcare chatbots or other high-quality quick-search resources for medical information
  • Prescription refill reminders or other medication notifications
  • Connectivity with your healthcare insurance agency
3. Becoming a super sleuth
With a better idea of what you're needs are, and what others recommend, sometimes that old Google search bar begins to look pretty friendly. That's a good thing: use it! It'll help you find more information on - and even visit the web portals of - the companies developing the apps you'll be using, and to which you'll be entrusting your personal healthcare information.

That's why I think it can be a really good idea to see if a potential app's name or even developer has come up recently in the news for anything...unfavorable. The big lookouts are, of course, privacy and security, but what about competitor endorsements or partnerships? Or political affiliations and employee reviews? These can provide a great non-technical context for who to trust in the eHealth industry.

4. Getting technical
That said, it is still important to give yourself somewhat of a technical context for choosing the best healthcare app for you. Even though it can sometimes seem daunting to get into the technical specifics of good healthcare app development, in my experience, breaking down a few, key technical specifics can make or break the advantage of some of the apps you've chosen for possible download.

To help, I've included a few other "technical" questions you can ask when considering whether to download your next healthcare app:
  • Is this app HIPAA-compliant?
  • Has this app been approved by the FDA?
  • How much data-storage will this app use?
  • Is this app available for both Android, iPhone and/ or the web? (usually this indicates better outward compatibility)
  • When was the last time a developer committed to a technical update, or responded to a reviewer concern? (this information can be found on an app's download page)


Hopefully, by this point, you've narrowed down your scope to about five or six possible apps. Now it's time to clear out those old healthcare apps (making sure to unsubscribe, unenroll, and even contact the developer to ask them to delete your personal data) and begin downloading new ones.

It's up to you whether you'd like to download them all at once, or one at a time--but I do recommend the latter: this way, you can engage each app fully and decide whether it's right for you without direct competitor bias.

Post-download, it's therefore great too:

1. Click on absolutely everything
Layout, chatbots, search bars, account tabs, payment features, contact me pages--all of it. Seriously. You don't want to get months into use and realize that a promised functionality isn't as convenient as you thought, or that the load time on a particular function crashes your whole phone.

What you're doing is called user testing. It's making sure that accessibility and load times are up to par--both while you're connected to wifi and otherwise. If this is an app that will be - say - helping you in an emergency, or helping you locate the nearest hospital while travelling, it will be important that you can use it outside the comfort of your home. You'll also want to make sure it's easy to use, especially if your shopping around for a healthcare app to assist in someone else's care.

In short, if it's just not functionally helpful to you, if it's slow, or if it's just a complex or confusing app overall, get rid of it!

2. Give it time
Sometimes, it's that easy: you get that gut feeling that an app is just not for you. And while it's always important to listen to that feeling, if you are just starting out with an app and your reaction isn't a complete "NO", then I would recommend giving said app a little more time.

In my experience as a healthcare app developer, it's been the little things that users will focus on and critique; features which have little to do with the main functionality of the app itself, and which are easily fixable. So don't rush, and weigh the balance. Is an ugly UI/ UX design, or annoying ad pop-up really enough to send you away from an app that otherwise helps support your medical needs?

Which brings us to the next point. What if all of the functionality is there, but in a week or two you find that you're just not using the app?

Ask yourself: Am I actually using it?
When you're comparing apps, it's easy to get comfortable using an app you think is great without testing the rest on your list. Ultimately though, if the app is functionally OK, but you're not using it, then it might not be right for you. In other words, it's important to know when to walk away--even if you feel the app is "just fine".

Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself at this point:
  • What's really keeping me from continuing my engagement? Is it:
    • Because I'm a "snooze" person, always dismissing notifications and then forgetting about them?
    • Because there aren't any external rewards to using the app or it's just not "fun"?
    • Because there isn't enough social engagement to keep me interested and motivated?

Whatever the case may be, write down what's working and not working for future reference as you continue to move forward in reviewing other healthcare apps.

4. Choose the Best Healthcare App for you
You've gotten this far, and you've tried all the apps on your list. Now it's going to come to choosing which one is best. Almost certainly, that "wants/ needs" list you created has changed since you set out on this journey to find the best healthcare app. And hopefully, you've learned a little more about what you do and don't need, and what you won't compromise on.

Now, it's time to go back to that list and make your final decision--which healthcare app is working best for me? The old pros and cons list can help here, but don't worry if you need to give these apps more time, or if you don't think you need to decide between two--sometimes more apps are better than one.

Either way, make sure you're keeping safe. And with all your new knowledge, you can begin helping others find which healthcare apps are best for them: let your doctor know which apps are working for you, share this new info with your friends or through forums, and don't hesitate to contact developers (like me) with concerns or ideas about an existing healthcare app.

Believe me, every little bit counts toward the betterment of your healthcare (and healthcare app) journey, especially when time is of the essence.


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