by Julie Mission – Make it Appen
This article was originally going to be 10 of the best paediatric apps for clinicians to use with their clients, specifically children. It seemed to me this would be a no-brainer and a relatively easy article to write. I expected a plethora of apps, as the children of 2018 are digital natives as, more often than not, they can use a smartphone before they can walk. Why not use an app to impart information, instil habits or explain why they are having a medical intervention? I thought my hardest job would be choosing which apps to review from the huge number of apps and then deciding on the top 10.
App Store Search
As with most things in our lives, it is best not to re-invent the wheel. Therefore, before embarking on building an app for a client, I always encourage the clinician to have a look on the app stores to see if there is not an app already created that may meet their needs. So, I thought writing about 10 apps would be a good article as it is what I preach in practice.
I went into this thinking I would easily get 10, that I would download them and have a look at how they were set up and how worthwhile they would be. However, my searches bought up very few. Those I did find often related to the practice itself or were aimed at the parents, not for the children who attend the practice.
As well as searching on the app stores, I also encourage my clients to do a Google search as often blog writers or website owners have already put together a list. This I often find more successful than the app store searches.
Sometimes you will find apps in the Google search that are only available in a certain country, usually the United States. So, if you find an app that is of interest to you, it is worth double-checking it is available on the Australian app stores.
I have included below a list of searches I undertook. I realise this list may not encompass your speciality so, it may be worth searching in your area of expertise to see if there is anything available. If you do find something, I would be very interested in being notified. I am slowly building a database of apps available in Australia that can be used by patients (children or adults) to improve health or wellbeing, or just to provide information so they can live an improved life.
I tried the following combination of searches (I have included any apps I did find under each of the dot points, just in case you wish to investigate further):
- The name of the disease, disability or problem the child is facing.
- Apps found:
- The Mice of Riddle Place. X2 versions
- Apps found:
- Mental Health
- Occupational Therapy
Below is a sample of the list of what the Google searches produced. There appears to be a lot more here on the surface, but a lot of these apps I could not find on the Australian app store, except of course for the one from the Royal Children’s Hospital, but this one is aimed more at parents than the child.
Reasons why apps are not being developed
This searching and poor results got me thinking. Why is this the case? I know that the development of apps in Australian Health Care is not yet a burgeoning field, in fact, it is in its infancy, especially those apps focused on patient care and used by the patient and not the clinician. I have asked clinicians I know in private practice: Why have they not considered an app?
These are the reasons they have given me:
- It has never crossed their mind that an app could be useful.
- Do not know which apps would be useful.
- Would like ideas for an app they could use in their practice.
- They may have thought about an app but did not know where to start.
- Not really sure what apps are, or what they can do.
- Considered an app but thought it too expensive to build.
- Not sure an app would benefit their patients any more than the practices they currently have.
- Do not think there is a need.
- They feel the clients would not be interested in using an app.
- Their clients do not own or know how to use a smartphone or tablet.
I have asked the above question in an informal, ad-hoc way. It would be great to know what the real reasons are.
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