Smartphone apps for urolithiasis
Stevens DJ., McKenzie K., Cui HW., Noble JG., Turney BW.
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. There are an increasing number of healthcare smartphone applications (‘apps’) available. Urolithiasis presents a major healthcare burden. Patients are increasingly keen to educate themselves regarding the diagnosis and management of their condition. There is no formal regulation of healthcare apps, including a large number of apps relating to urolithiasis. This review aims to examine the range of apps available, and the prevalence of healthcare professional input. Four international smartphone app stores were searched: Apple’s App Store, Google Play (Android), BlackBerry App World and the Windows Phone App store. A total of 42 unique apps were downloaded and analysed. Recorded data included the cost (£/$), publisher information, number of ratings, average rating and any documentation of medical professional involvement. Twenty-one (50 %) apps required payment for download. The mean cost was £3.58 ($6.04) with range £0.61–£34.90 ($1.03–$58.87). Thirty-three (79 %) of the 42 apps were designed to be used by patients. Fifteen (36 %) of the 42 apps had clear input from health professionals. Twenty-two apps offered patient information, including dietary advice on lowering calcium intake, which is contrary to current evidence-based practice. We conclude that urolithiasis apps have future potential to inform both patients and healthcare professionals on stone management. However, inaccuracies in the recommendations made by some apps can be misleading or even harmful due to a lack of specialist involvement. We recommend improving the usefulness of these apps by seeking a ‘quality stamp’ from recognised urological organisations and greater clinician involvement in future app development.