Mobile Self-Care Apps for Kidney Disease Patients

Patient self-care is an important element in management of chronic kidney disease (CKD), particularly related to medication and dietary adherence, self-monitoring of blood pressure, and daily physical activity. There are data that suggest the benefits of incorporation of smartphone-based mobile applications designed to support self-care in chronic disease and CKD.

Karandeep Singh, MD, MS, and colleagues recently conducted an analysis of smartphone applications that target patients with CKD. The researchers conducted a search of the US Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android) using the terms kidney disease, renal, dialysis, and kidney transplant. The first 50 applications for each search term on each application store were considered in the current analysis. Applications were evaluated on their types of patient engagement, quality, usability, and safety.

The search identified 174 unique applications on the Android platform and 165 unique applications on iOS. Following exclusion of applications not related to kidney disease, those that were not patient facing, and those that were last updated prior to 2014, the current analysis included 12 Android-only applications, 11 iOS-only applications, and five dual-platform applications. Patient and nephrologist application quality ratings, assessed by the net promoter score, were not correlated (r=0.36; P=.06). There was no correlation between consumer ratings on the application stores and patient ratings of application quality (r=.034; P=.18).

“Only a small subset of CKD applications was highly rated by both patients and nephrologists. Patients’ impressions of application quality are not directly linked to consumer applications ratings or nephrologist impressions,” the researchers concluded.