Marlene M. Maheu & Viola Nicolucci & Myron L. Pulier & Karen M. Wall & Tami J. Frye & Eva Hudlicka

Mental Health AppsAbstract  The inadequacy of infrastructure for bringing mobile healthcare apps from developers to clinical practitioners has kept the 165,000+ currently available healthcare apps from integration into routine clinical practice. The absence of regulatory and certification processes and the unlikelihood that many apps will be tested with credible clinical trials leaves it up to expert reviews to lead clinicians to high-quality apps. However, most app reviews are not collected in an easily searchable location that facilitates comparison of the merits of alternative apps, and surveys of existing expert reviews reveal a lack of standards for objective and reliable assessments. Furthermore, most published recommendations for mental health apps are not based on their validity or appropriateness for clinical use.

This article describes development of the Interactive MobileApp Review Toolkit (IMART), a technology-assisted system for producing verifiable app reviews intended for clinicians and its accompanying evidence-based thesaurus of standards. IMART will present systematized reviews in a searchable, curated library where clinicians can find and compare reviews about mental health apps that are tagged as to the treatment needs of clients/patients and that address how the apps could be integrated into the visitor’s clinical practice.

The assessment criteria in the “Digital Health StandardsThesaurus” can be used in reviewing mental health apps and other digital health products, in developing apps, in making decisions about investing venture capital or foundation funds into concepts for new digital health products, and in selecting such products into the “formularies” of third party payers.

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Published online: 11 January 2017 Springer International Publishing 2017