Mobile health offers many opportunities; however, the ‘side-effects’ of health apps are often unclear. With no guarantee health apps first do no harm, their role as a viable, safe and effective therapeutic option is limited.
To assess the quality of apps for chronic insomnia disorder, available on the Android Google Play Store, and determine whether a novel approach to app assessment could identify high-quality and low-risk health apps in the absence of indicators such as National Health Service (NHS) approval.
The Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Applications- 24 Question Assessment (ORCHA-24), 24 app assessment criteria concerning data privacy, clinical efficacy and user experience, answered on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and evidence-driven basis, was applied to assess 18 insomnia apps identified via the Android Google Play Store, in addition to the NHS-approved iOS app Sleepio.
Apps for chronic insomnia disorder exhibit substantial variation in adherence to published data privacy, user experience and clinical efficacy standards, which are not clearly correlated with app downloads or user-review scores.
In absence of formal app accreditation, the ORCHA-24 could feasibly be used to highlight the risk–benefit profiles of health apps prior to downloading.