OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to comprehensively evaluate mobile apps used for medication compliance and nutrition tracking for possible use by CKD and ESRD patients.
METHODS: A systematic review framework was applied to the search, screening, and assessment of apps identified and downloaded from the iOS and Android app stores. We selected apps using 13 relevant search terms, narrowed down based on a set of inclusion and exclusion criteria, and then used the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS), a widely adopted app evaluation tool to assess the effectiveness of apps. The internal consistency and interrater reliability were tested using Cronbach alpha and interclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), respectively.
RESULTS: The MARS total score had excellent internal consistency (Cronbach alpha=.90) and a moderate level of interrater reliability (2-way mixed ICC 0.65). Overall, 11 out of the 12 reviewed apps met the minimum acceptable score of 3.0 in MARS rating. The 3 apps with the highest combined scores were My Kidneys, My Health Handbook (MARS=4.68); My Food Coach (MARS=4.48); and National Kidney Foundation Malaysia (MARS=4.20). The study identified 2 general weaknesses in the existing apps: the apps fell short of accommodating advanced interactive features such as providing motivational feedback and promoting family member and caregiver participations in the app utilization.
CONCLUSIONS: The MARS rating system performed well in the app evaluation. The 3 highest ranked apps scored consistently high across the 5 dimensions specified in MARS. These apps were developed in collaboration with reputable organizations and field experts, demonstrating the importance of expert guidance in developing medical apps.