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User Ratings Didn’t Catch Blood Pressure App Inaccuracies

Authors say findings support need for regulatory review of mobile health apps

THURSDAY, June 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) — User reviews and ratings of a popular, yet inaccurate, blood pressure-measuring mobile app were largely positive, according to a study published online June 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Timothy B. Plante, M.D., from the University of Vermont in Colchester, and colleagues evaluated iTunes app reviews for Instant Blood Pressure v1.2.3. Reviews were downloaded and assessed for themes.

The researchers found that common themes included perceived accuracy (42 percent of all reviews), inaccuracy (10 percent), and convenience (34 percent). Its star rating was a mean of 4.8 and median of 5.0 for perceived accuracy. Disclaimers were ineffective at preventing medical use of the app. The authors note that these findings support the need for more rigorous regulatory review of apps prior to their release.

“Physicians need to be careful; if you’re saying you personally use an app, people will trust it,” Plante said in a statement. “Our take-home message to health care providers is to make sure you hold apps to the highest standards, and not just give out recommendations willy-nilly for apps that you think are neat. And consumers should be skeptical of reviews from self-proclaimed health professionals in product reviews.”

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