The right healthcare mobile apps given or recommended to patients can play a role not only in more deeply engaging them in their own health status, but helping them stay engaged.

The problem is, there’s about 165,000 of these apps, says Lygeia Riccardi, former senior policy advisor at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and now president at Clear Voice Consulting LLC. During a session at HIMSS16, Riccardi will walk through the maze of health apps along with Jennifer Shine Dyer, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Central Ohio Pediatric Endocrine and Diabetes Service in Columbus, who developed her own diabetes app for patients.

Riccardi will start with an overview of popular apps, market growth and the various capabilities of apps. Dyer will explain her app that helps patients manage their blood sugar levels, supported by a social network of family and friends. Then, both speakers will get into general recommendations for health app success.

“We have basic recommendations we want to cover to engage providers to prescribe apps to sustain the likelihood that patients will continue to use them,” Riccardi says. They’ll also talk about “gamification,” or how to identify and recommend apps that make learning fun.

Further, with a low level of app-related clinical trials conducted, they will discuss which types of therapies tend to be more successful with app use. “Digital health and health apps provide a lot of opportunity to engage patients, and if you want to do that, there are general guidelines to keep in mind,” Riccardi says. “There are huge promises, but do it in an intelligent way, don’t just say “we have apps.”

The session, “The Value of Patient-Facing Apps in Engagement,” is at 2 p.m. on February 29, in Delfino 4001, and is part of the Patient Engagement Symposium.

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