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Australian mHealth Apps Assessment Framework

The Australian mHealth Apps Assessment Framework project, developed through a collaborative effort led by the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH) and supported by the Australian Department of Health & Aged Care and Therapeutic Goods Administration, represents a significant contribution towards establishing a standardised assessment process for mobile health (mHealth) applications in Australia. This initiative aims to support the safe and effective use of mHealth apps, contributing to the digital health market’s maturity and promoting the integration of digital tools in healthcare.

Development and Validation of the Framework
The Australian mHealth Apps Assessment Framework was developed by the Australian Digital Health Agency to address the challenges consumers and healthcare professionals face in selecting credible mHealth apps. It provides a comprehensive set of criteria for evaluating the quality, safety, and effectiveness of these apps. The development process involved extensive consultation with stakeholders, including government bodies, academic institutions, and industry experts, ensuring a broad representation of perspectives and expertise.

In 2023, a validation study was conducted as part of the project to test the Framework’s efficacy and applicability. This involved a targeted approach, engaging key stakeholders from government and industry to develop an initial baseline of test results. The study, supported by Deakin University and a team of independent assessors, evaluated a selection of mHealth apps against the Framework’s criteria, providing valuable insights into its practical application and areas of possible refinement.

Key findings and proposed options
The validation study highlighted the Framework’s potential in guiding the development and assessment of mHealth apps. However, it also identified areas for improvement, particularly regarding the clarity and applicability of assessment questions. The study proposed refining the Framework to better capture the nuances of app performance and ensure its relevance in the rapidly evolving digital health landscape.

Furthermore, the study emphasised the importance of considering emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, in the Framework’s criteria. This would ensure that the Framework remains current and capable of assessing new generations of mHealth apps.

To implement the refined Framework, the development of a clear and standardised assessment procedure and an online system for recording assessment data is a consideration. This would facilitate a more streamlined and efficient assessment process for app developers and other stakeholders. Additionally, establishing a governing body to oversee the Framework’s ongoing refinement and application is crucial for ensuring its sustainability and relevance.

Future Directions
The AIDH and its partners are committed to further refining the Framework based on the insights gained from the validation study. This includes updating the question set, engaging with stakeholders for additional testing and consultation, and developing guidance materials to support the Framework’s use. The ultimate goal is to publish a revised Framework that meets the diverse needs of the digital health community and promotes the safe and effective use of mHealth apps in Australia.

The Australian mHealth Apps Assessment Framework project represents a foundational step towards standardising the evaluation of mHealth apps. Through ongoing refinement, stakeholder engagement, and the establishment of a robust governance structure, the Framework is poised to play a key role in advancing digital health in Australia.

Should you wish to obtain more information on this work or to express an interest in being involved in future directions, please contact the AIDH Policy and Advocacy team via , a href=”mailto:[email protected];”>[email protected].

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