Actionable health app evaluation: translating expert frameworks into objective metrics

Sarah Lagan, Patrick Aquino, Margaret R. Emerson, Karen Fortuna, Robert Walker, John Torous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


As use and availability of mobile health apps have increased, so too has the need for a thorough, accessible framework for app evaluation. The American Psychiatric Association’s app evaluation model has emerged as a way to critically assess an app by considering accessibility, privacy and security, clinical foundation, engagement, and interoperability; however, there is no centralized database where users can view how various health apps perform when assessed via the APA model. In this perspective, we propose and outline our effort to translate the APA’s model for the evaluation of health apps into a set of objective metrics that can be published online, making the framework actionable and accessible to a broad audience. The questions from the APA model were operationalized into 105 objective questions that are either binary or numeric. These questions serve as the foundation of an online database, where app evaluation consists of answering these 105 questions and can be crowdsourced. While the database has yet to be published and crowdsourced, initial internal testing demonstrated excellent interrater reliability. The database proposed here introduces a public and interactive approach to data collection that is guided by the APA model. The published product enables users to sort through the many mobile health apps and filter them according to individual preferences and priorities, making the ever-growing health app market more navigable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100
Journalnpj Digital Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management


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