Online Program

Data portability in mHealth — Can we retain our life log when changing apps, devices, or mobile platforms?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Shoko Miyagawa, Ph.D, Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, Keio University, Fujisawa, Japan
Background: The rapid growth of health applications (apps) on mobile phones such as fitness, diet, or weight tracking apps generates the question whether users can retain their life log when switching to different health apps, health gears connected to mobile phones, or mobile-phone platforms such as Android and iOS.

Objective: This study examined functions of data portability in health apps for Android and iOS.

Methods: In January 2015, we retrieved a list of apps by searching the Apple App Store and Google Play for keywords “weight tracker” and “diet tracker.” We chose 20 apps for both Android and iOS eliminating those with ratings <4, those with number of ratings <50, and those that do not require users to record a life log. We then investigated whether this life log data could be exported to other apps or files.

Results: 19 of 40 Android and iOS apps are determined to be data exportable, and no significant differences are found between these two platforms. Of 15 apps that export data to files, 8 are expressed in a table using the comma separated value (CSV) format and do not require format processing; 4 employ the CSV format but are not formatted in a plain table and require some format processing; and 3 do not use the CSV format, and to extract data from them requires advanced data manipulation skills. 1 Android and 5 iOS apps support integrated health data management functions, e.g., Apple Healthkit and Google Fit.

Conclusion: Our research clarifies that more than half of the selected apps do not support data portability or provide only token data portability, which is not immediately evident before initial selection. It also suggests that the data integration function for both platforms (Apple Healthkit and Google Fit) have only a limited effect on data portability.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Describe current situation of data portability in health app by different platforms. Define and describe the problem on data portability. Discuss study implication on evaluating mobile health apps from the point of data portability.

Keyword(s): Information Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I'm the PI of this study. I have years of experience of teaching health informatics and conducting research in health informatics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.