Mobile-health offers many opportunities, however the ‘side-effects’ of health-apps are often unclear. 

NEWS

Applying the ORCHA-24 framework to evaluate apps for chronic insomnia disorder

BACKGROUND: Mobile-health offers many opportunities, however the ‘side-effects’ of health-apps are often unclear. With no guarantee health-apps first do no harm, their role as a viable, safe, and effective therapeutic option is limited.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of apps for chronic insomnia disorder, available on the Android Google Play Store, and determine whether a novel approach to app-assessment could identify high quality and low risk health-apps in the absence of indicators such as NHS-approval.

METHODS: The ORCHA-24, 24 app-assessment criteria concerning data privacy, clinical efficacy, and user experience, answered on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, evidence-driven basis; was applied to assess 18 insomnia apps identified via the Android Google Play Store, in addition to the NHS-approved iOS app Sleepio™.

FINDINGS: 63.2% of apps (12/19) provided a privacy policy, with seven (36.8%) stating no user data would be shared without explicit consent. 10.5% (2/19) stated they had been shown to be of benefit to those with insomnia, with CBT apps outperforming hypnosis and meditation apps (p=0.046). Both the number of app downloads(p=0.29), and user-review scores (p=0.23) were unrelated to ORCHA-24 scores. The NHS-approved app Sleepio™, consistently outperformed non-accredited apps across all domains of the ORCHA-24.

CONCLUSION: Apps for chronic insomnia disorder exhibit substantial variation in adherence to published data privacy, user experience, and clinical efficacy standards; which are not clearly correlated with app downloads or user-review scores.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: In absence of formal app accreditation, the ORCHA-24 could feasibly be used to highlight the risk-benefit profiles of health-apps prior to downloading.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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