Choosing the right mental health or wellness app is challenging with over 10,000 available for download. To assist patients, clinicians, and the wider public in making informed decisions, our team has collaborated with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to build an App Evaluation Model.
We regularly review the app store marketplaces and study ongoing efforts to regulate, evaluate, and rate mental health apps. Supplemented by our own research, our team is aware that a thorough review often needs to take into account terms of services and privacy policies, which are sometimes hard to locate, outdated, and intentionally vague.
The APA App Evaluation Model is built on the knowledge that decisions around treatment and ongoing care are personal and unique to patients and clinicians. The framework is designed, therefore, to equip individuals with the information they need to assess digital health tools on their own and in the context of a therapeutic relationship. The model suggests patients evaluate mobile apps in the following areas of descending importance: Safety and Privacy, Evidence, Ease of Use, and Interoperability.
The hierarchical rating system is available for reference and use on the APA website. Our goal is to enhance and share education around the efficacy and safety of mobile health applications. The APA App Evaluation Model is an evolving framework, and in an effort to enhance the rating system and share knowledge, the APA has introduced an App Advisor Expert Panel for care providers, patients, software developers, and students to sit on.