Deakin Health E-technologies Assessment Lab (D-HEAL): Benchmarking and evaluation of digital health technologies

Digital health applications (be they for personal use or for use by clinicians) have proliferated in recent years, with more than 325,000 mobile health apps available to download. In this market, there’s very little authoritative guidance for consumers and health organisations to identify which health apps to use.

While the need for one is increasingly recognised, there are no frameworks that Australian health organisations can use to rapidly review mobile health apps to recommend to consumers. Globally, no regulatory body adequately addresses the risk of misinformation from apps, leaving consumers overwhelmed by choice and at risk of potential adverse clinical consequences.

The benchmarking and evaluation of digital health technologies project, funded by Medibank Private, commenced late in 2019 and seeks to develop a comprehensive digital health app evaluation framework for the rapid review and recommendation of apps by health organisations in Australia. It will synthesise and test the key elements of existing theoretical frameworks to enable development of an Australian framework for rapid evaluation and rating of the best health apps in priority areas.

“Digital health apps offer the potential to support consumers to better tailor their health-seeking behaviours and take greater direction of their own care. This project will develop a pathway to help realise that potential for Australians, through providing a realistic digital health app evaluation framework that’s relevant to the Australian context,” says Associate Professor Martin Hensher, co-Deputy Director of the Institute’s Deakin Health Economics.

The long-term outcome of the project will be the use of the framework by Medibank and other health and government organisations to review, promote and support the use of high-quality digital health apps across a variety of health conditions.

The D-HEAL research team comprises Professor Anna Peeters, Director, Institute for Health Transformation, Associate Professor Martin Hensher, Associate Professor of Health Systems Financing and Organisation Paul Cooper, Dieu Nguyen Senior Research Fellow, Deakin Health Economics, Sithara Wanni Arachchige Dona – Associate Research Fellow Deakin, Health Economics and Mary Rose Angeles, Research Assistant, Deakin Health Economics.

You can read more about the team’s work on our blog.