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Dermatology Online Journal

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Critical analysis of features and quality of applications for clinical management of acne


Background: Mobile medical applications (apps) for clinical management of medical conditions are increasing in prevalence. Our aim was to identify features and overall quality of acne apps that could facilitate clinical management. Methods: We established 10 pertinent features (6 essential and 4 desirable) for an acne app through literature search and nominal group discussion. Searches were then conducted in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Apps which assisted with clinical management of acne were assessed for functionality and quality. Overall quality was evaluated by grading against pre-established criteria for medical apps. Results: A total of 358 Apple apps and 256 Google apps were found. After removing apps which did not assist with the clinical management of acne, 12 Apple and 13 Google apps remained. Apps were classified as interactive, informational, or teledermatology apps. Mean Masud scores were 12.8±3.7 for the Apple apps and 12.2±3.7 for the Google apps. Conclusions: Mobile acne apps can be effective in the self-management and collaborative management of acne. The current acne apps are of variable quality and none contained all 10 features crucial for effective clinical management. The shortcomings identified in this paper can guide future acne app development.

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