International Practice in Digital Apps

What is the current state of international initiatives to develop, assess and evaluate the use of mobile health and wellbeing apps and services?


DHI identified, examined and compared 17 different initiatives for developing, assessing and recommending mobile health & wellbeing apps. The initiatives included self-assessment questionnaires, independent accreditations, general guidelines/ guiding principles, Codes of Conduct, risk-based assessments and Quality Assurance Frameworks.

Seven consistent quality parameters or criterions were identified:

  1. ‘Privacy/ Data protection’
  2. ‘Credible sources/ Evidence-based information’
  3. ‘Usability/ user experience’
  4. ‘Functionality’
  5. ‘Security/ authentication’
  6. ‘Effectiveness/ Impact’
  7. ‘Interoperability’


DHI was commissioned by the EU funded mPower project to create a high-level overview and examination of current international initiatives and practices to assure quality-based health & wellbeing apps. By doing so, DHI enabled mPower to draw upon consistent international themes/ trends in the field and choose the most suitable approach to assess, evaluate and select the needed apps and services for Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


Impact & Value

Since the report was published in May 2018, it has been of great use to the mPower team to support more people to use mobile health apps. It has been shared widely and influenced the thinking across health boards. This also includes the recent NICE Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies, in which the report was referenced among the “Selected studies and other publications that were used in developing the standards".