If you own a smartphone (and most people do), apps help you with a variety of your daily tasks. They help you connect with people in your social circle, track things that matter to you, and alert you to relevant events and information. And, a lot of them are really good fun. Is there anything an app can’t help with?
If you are interested in improving your health, apps can help you. But, choosing which ones will help you achieve a goal can seem like an overwhelming task. There are tens of thousands of them in the marketplace, and finding just the right one isn’t always easy. In general, people download one and use it a few times before abandoning it. Sometimes they get lazy and can’t keep the app going, but a lot of the time, the app just isn’t sustainable or easy to use.
Good Apps Are Easy to Use
If you can’t keep track of how an app works or it often crashes or simply isn’t user-friendly, you won’t keep using it. Obviously, you need to be able to learn how to use it quickly and be able to continue using it with relative ease.
But, they should also be something easy to fit into your life. There are, for instance, blood pressure cuffs that send your readings to your smartphone, computer, or other electronic device. Before this was an option, you would have had to keep your own diary, often a handwritten one. The app in conjunction with the cuff makes the entire process easier.
Good Apps Give Feedback
Often, apps store information, as in the blood pressure app. A really good one will go one step further and give you feedback. If the blood pressure recordings you are taking show an upward swing and the numbers are moving above the normal range, the app should alert you to the problem and prompt you to visit your doctor.
Good Apps Provide Clues to Improve Your Health
There are apps that you plug information into in order to form a record and those have value in a record keeping sense. But, really good apps both record and respond. Ideally, they give you clues to things that could improve your overall health. There are migraine apps that help to identify the triggers causing the crippling headaches. They follow patterns and this can help sufferers better manage their condition. There are also apps for depression and anxiety that provide similar data.
Good Apps Use Evidence-Based Strategies
Medicine is a science and science depends upon research. Good apps will similarly depend upon evidence-based approaches that have been shown to work. That means you should look for apps that encourage or facilitate goal setting and self-monitoring. They should use cues and push notifications. And, they should provide rewards and social support. For example, the Weight Watchers app does all of these and the program does have a verifiable record of working for people who engage in it.
Good Apps Come from Good Developers
There are first time developers who hit on agreat idea and design a good product. That’s totally possible. But, it is more likely that a quality app will come from an established developer with a record of fine work. Instead of being swayed by appealing features and a fancy design, research the developer. Those who make good apps usually:
- Have designed other health apps
- Have consulted health professionals to design the app
- Have the endorsement of reputable health organizations and hospitals
If the developer has zero experience and they haven’t developed the app with input from a health organization, it’s unlikely the app is good.