Cardiac guidelines app zapped by healthcare practitioners

Cardiologists and other health practitioners who downloaded the National Heart Foundation of Australia’s clinical guidelines app opened the program just twice before deleting it, an evaluation shows.

Launched in October 2019 in conjunction with CSANZ, the Smart Heart Guideline App was billed as a time-saver for health professionals, allowing easy access to recently-published resources on AF and heart failure, as well as on management of acute coronary syndromes.

But less than three years on, the app has been quietly ditched, no longer appearing in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

In an evaluation published this month, a team from the foundation stressed there were positives, with “promising” early uptake from health professionals and some 11,313 downloads in its first 20 months of existence.

Some 66% of these were on Apple, with the other 34% via the Google service, they wrote.

However, as many as 85% of those who downloaded the program via the latter system had since deleted it, the researchers said.

On top of that, App Store data showed that users opened the app only 2.06 times on average, they wrote in JMIR Formative Research (link).

Despite that, the foundation’s manager for clinical evidence Dr Amanda Buttery denied the project had been a failure.

She told the limbic the app had been developed in response to surveys of health professionals, where they had indicated they wanted such an program.

“Our focus was not necessarily on creating an app, but ensuring we were providing a convenient digital solution that allowed healthcare professionals to access guidelines on their mobile phone or tablet, as requested, and therefore provide the best possible care to patients,” she said.

“With this in mind, the Heart Foundation approached the development of the app with a ‘test and learn’ mindset, meaning our focus was to ascertain whether a standalone app was indeed the best implementation.”

“As a result of this study, we observed that healthcare professionals welcomed the app as evidenced by its high uptake, but later found that they favoured other platforms when it came to real-world use.”

“These include web-based guidelines or integration into existing platforms, rather than a standalone application.”

“We know that Australian patients and their health professionals will benefit from these insights as we continue to work with health professionals to make the guidelines as accessible as possible.”

The Heart Foundation declined to say how much it had spent on the project, saying the information was commercial in confidence, although it said the app was closed in January 2022 and subsequently deregistered from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

A previous survey of health professionals found that 70% reported they would be likely to use an Australian-specific app for cardiac clinical guidelines.

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