Background Mobile health applications (apps) have the potential to help individuals with chronic illnesses learn about, monitor, and manage their condition, but these apps are largely unexamined, with the state and direction of development unclear. Objective We performed a systematic review of publicly available apps, directed toward individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA); described their current features; and determined areas of unmet need. Methods We searched the iTunes and Google Play App Stores for the term "arthritis" and reviewed the descriptions of these apps for specific mentions of RA. Applications that met inclusion criteria were downloaded and reviewed. Using a set of quality measures identified from literature review, we assessed each app for 4 features: basic characteristics, content source, functionality, and security. Frequencies for each feature were recorded, and percentages were calculated. Results Twenty apps intended for use by RA patients were identified in December 2016. Fifty percent of apps (n = 10) offered only symptom tracking. Five (20%) provided only information about RA, and 5 (20%) engaged patients by providing both symptom tracking and educational information. Fewer than 50% of apps provided means to contact health care providers or link to an online community, and only 6 (30%) offered security protection for the user. Conclusions Most current RA apps do not provide a comprehensive experience for individuals with RA. Areas for optimization include the implementation of smartphone accessibility features and secure methods of protecting individual health information.
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