Health Life

Researcher creates rating system for mobile health apps

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

With more than 300,000 mobile health apps available, it’s tough to know which ones are best, but a University of Alberta researcher has developed a way to help sort through the tangle.

The Alberta Rating Index for Apps (ARIA) is easy to use and offers more personalized, relevant ratings than other rating scales, said Peyman Azad Khaneghah, who created it as his Ph.D. thesis in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“Existing app quality rating scales are either too complex or don’t include all relevant criteria,” said Azad Khaneghah, an who is often asked by patients about the best apps to use.

He is currently working to get ARIA publicly accessible on a website for this fall so people may be able to use it to measure the quality of their apps.

Used for everything from monitoring and sleep patterns to providing health advice, mobile apps can be low-quality, not useful and even unsafe. They’re also poorly regulated, he said.

“Unless an app claims it is for diagnosis or treatment, or can replace an already-approved medical device, it’s not required to be approved by any regulatory body. The makers can say an app is not a replacement for professional health intervention, and this one line gets them off the hook so they don’t have to be approved. We don’t know which ones are good or bad.”

Some apps have poor graphics, crash frequently, make anecdotal claims not backed by research or provide bad advice to users, he suggested.

Rating security

Azad Khaneghah created ARIA after studying several existing app rating scales and finding them lacking in several areas, includingprivacy and security.

“None of them measured the compliance of an app with required privacy policies or measured whether an app is actually secure

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What to Do if Your Pet Tests Positive for the Virus that Causes COVID-19

What you need to know

  • If your pet tests positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, isolate the pet from everyone else, including other pets.
  • Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use.
  • Only a few pets have been confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Some pets did not show any signs of illness, but those pets that did get sick all had mild disease that could be taken care of at home. None have died from the infection.
  • If you think your pet has COVID-19, call a veterinarian first to discuss what you should do.
  • Pets with confirmed infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 should be restricted to isolation in the home until a veterinarian or public health official has determined that they can be around other pets and people.

We are still learning about how the virus that causes COVID-19 can affect animals.  A small number of pets (cats and dogs) have been confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with a person with COVID-19. Some pets did not show any signs of illness, but those pets that did get sick all had mild disease that could be taken care of at home. None of the pets have died. Tests for COVID-19 in animals are available for most types of pets, but testing is only recommended for animals with COVID-19 symptoms and that have been exposed to a person with COVID-19.

Based on the limited information available now, the risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. There is no reason to abandon or surrender pets that have been confirmed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

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