JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Mar 24;9(3):e27406. doi: 10.2196/27406.
BACKGROUND: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an integral part of mainstream medicine in China, with theories and practices that are completely different from modern medicine. TCM should not be ignored or confused with modern medicine in the analysis of the Chinese health care system, including the analysis of mobile health (mHealth) apps. To date, differences between TCM apps and modern medicine apps have not be systematically investigated.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to systematically compare the quality of apps for TCM and modern medicine in China.
METHODS: In December 2020, we searched iOS (iTunes) and Android (Tencent, Oppo, and Huawei app stores) platforms for all mHealth apps and then categorized them as TCM or modern medicine apps if they were included in the final analysis. The included apps were downloaded on smartphones and assessed by 2 reviewers on the following 4 aspects: (1) data in the app stores, including user ratings, download counts, cost, target users, and year of last update; (2) functionality; (3) quality of the app content as determined by the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS); and (4) analysis of the app privacy and security.
CONCLUSIONS: The different functionalities reflect the distinct innate characteristics of these two medical systems. Although great progress has been made and the Chinese mHealth market size is large, there still exist many opportunities for future development, especially for TCM.