The Hacking Medicine Institute (HMi), a non-profit organization, has launched RANKED Health, a program to critically evaluate and rank health-focused applications and connected devices for better disease monitoring and management. Spun out of the MIT Hacking Medicine Initiative,this program will not only provide independent, unbiased and accurate information to empower providers and consumers to confidently choose new products and services for monitoring and managing specific conditions, but also shed light on unsafe or ineffective digital health apps that pose serious threats to consumer health.
Review Model and Approach
RANKED Health will be led by Drs. Maulik Majmudar, a cardiologist and associate director of the Healthcare Transformation Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Adam Landman, an emergency medicine physician and chief medical information officer at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Modeled after academic journals, RANKED incorporates multiple experts into our review process, as much as possible. Reviewers independently review each app on a set of predetermined criteria. The resulting reviews are examined by an editor, with particular attention paid to discrepancies between the reviews.
The two reviewers discuss any discrepancies until agreement is reached. This process aims to increase the reliability of reviews by shining a spotlight on areas of the reviews in which there is poor agreement between the reviewers. Doing so lessens the influence of any individual reviewer on the findings of a review.The reviews themselves are designed to contain both objective information about the apps and the subjective determinations by the experts reviewing them.
Scoring Criteria is based on the following:
Effectiveness: Clinical Relevance/ Credibility/ Evidence-base
Functionality: Features, data sharing, integration with other apps or HealthKit or electronic medical records
Usability: user interface, user experience, easy of use, look & feel, etc.
Not recommended: <40
The past few years bore witness to the rise and fall of several organizations with a shared goal of reviewing, rating or certifying mobile health applications. Recognizing that those efforts were hindered by trust, credibility and sustainability factors, the leadership team at RANKED Health is committed to making this review program an iterative and collaborative process. The initial set of reviews have been completed, and reviewers are actively seeking feedback and input from industry experts and end-users to ensure the program is aligned with market needs and sentiment.
According to Dr. Majmudar, “One of the major challenges facing the community is the inability to filter through the thousands of mobile medical applications in the app stores to identify safe, accurate and effective solutions. Patients and providers don’t have the necessary information to make an informed decision regarding the use of healthcare-focused mobile apps. They are looking for a credible source to provide summary information on these apps in an easy-to-understand format.”
Featured App Reviews
Some of the digital health apps already reviewed by RANKED Health include:
– Medisafe (Recommended: 81) – A well designed mobile app intended for patients who are on multiple medications for chronic diseases and who have a hard time complying with their prescription medications.
– Mango Health (Acceptable: 74) – A well designed app to engage users in the daily tracking of their medications with potential rewards for adherence.
-Glucose Buddy (Acceptable: 60) – An “average” electronic blood glucose logging app with the most promising feature being the ability to sync blood glucose readings with caregivers.
– Smart Blood Pressure ( Recommended: 80) – A simple electronic/ digital diary for blood pressure and heart rate data monitoring and tracking.
– Hello Heart Premium (Acceptable: 70) – An outstanding mobile app for people interested in monitoring and tracking their blood pressure. However, it lacks high-quality evidence to backup their claims of helping people manage/ optimize blood pressure control.
Call for Clinical Reviewers – Both Experts and Engaged Patients
In tandem with the review program, Hacking Medicine Institute is inviting leading clinical experts to join its efforts to publish research and reviews of the most effective and best-designed new medical technologies. Alongside clinicians, engaged patients and caregivers can contribute meaningful insights, and reviews from non-clinicians with expertise as power users are welcomed. HMi is assembling specialty editors and reviewers who will be published for evaluating new medical technologies and services.
Reviewers will also have access to HMi’s consortium, events and proprietary data for publishing further studies on the effectiveness of new digital medical technologies. Interested experts and patients should email firstname.lastname@example.org.