Consumer Mobile Apps for Potential Drug-Drug Interaction Check: Systematic Review and Content Analysis Using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS).
BACKGROUND: General consumers can now easily access drug information and quickly check for potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs) through mobile health (mHealth) apps. With aging population in Canada, more people have chronic diseases and comorbidities leading to increasing numbers of medications. The use of mHealth apps for checking PDDIs can be helpful in ensuring patient safety and empowerment.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to review the characteristics and quality of publicly available mHealth apps that check for PDDIs.
METHODS: Apple App Store and Google Play were searched to identify apps with PDDI functionality. The apps' general and feature characteristics were extracted. The Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) was used to assess the quality.
RESULTS: A total of 23 apps were included for the review-12 from Apple App Store and 11 from Google Play. Only 5 of these were paid apps, with an average price of $7.19 CAD. The mean MARS score was 3.23 out of 5 (interquartile range 1.34). The mean MARS scores for the apps from Google Play and Apple App Store were not statistically different (P=.84). The information dimension was associated with the highest score (3.63), whereas the engagement dimension resulted in the lowest score (2.75). The total number of features per app, average rating, and price were significantly associated with the total MARS score.
CONCLUSIONS: Some apps provided accurate and comprehensive information about potential adverse drug effects from PDDIs. Given the potentially severe consequences of incorrect drug information, there is a need for oversight to eliminate low quality and potentially harmful apps. Because managing PDDIs is complex in the absence of complete information, secondary features such as medication reminder, refill reminder, medication history tracking, and pill identification could help enhance the effectiveness of PDDI apps.