A recent study conducted by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California suggests that mobile apps for cancer survivors have a long way to go. Though the study acknowledged the enormous potential for such apps, it found many existing apps to be lacking in basic development and appropriate testing. Many apps have been put up on app stores with little to no involvement from actual patients. These findings coincide with earlier data from 2016 indicating that about two-thirds of cancer apps do not even disclose their affiliation.
Quality apps for cancer patients and survivors do exist, however, such as those produced by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. These apps share several key design aspects that empower patients, including information, self-monitoring, feedback, tailored data, self-managed training and exercise, and communication with healthcare providers and other survivors. Apps with the capabilities to track symptoms, schedule and manage appointments, record questions and answers, and log medications have had great success.
Unfortunately, not all apps meet these standards, and the problem extends beyond oncology. About 265,000 total medical apps exist, but are not necessarily made under standards for making sure they are made with proper feedback from doctors and patients. This has led health experts to suggest the establishment of a network of unbiased non-profit organizations for reviewing medical apps and related devices. The FDA has had a policy managing mobile medical apps since 2013, but not all types of apps are covered. As the number of cancer survivors grows with aging population, properly tested apps must become a priority for the healthcare industry.