Patient Centric App Review Series

App Reviewed: Gout Channel (Ver. 1.0)

Goals of app review:

  • Determine applicability as a patient education app on gout,  including addressing issues such as pathophysiology and treatment
  • Evaluate ease of use as an educational tool for patients


Introduction:
Gout,  “the disease of kings,” is a highly cumbersome rheumatological issue that is seeing a rise in the population.

[1] This is most likely secondary to the high rate of obesity in the country along with a diet high in purines (think meat products).

Treatment relies on addressing hyperuricemia and treatment of acute flares. Educating patients on gout may help address dietary changes and recognizing what risk factors may trigger a flare.

App Specifics:

Last Updated: June 5, 2012
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (Universal), Android OS
Requires: iOS 3.2 or later, Android 2.1 or later
Reviewed on:  iPad 2 & Nexus 7

Gout Channel opens up with a straightforward menu to select different topics relating to gout. This includes education on what gout is, causes, and management.

The app utilizes a mixture of animations, images,  and detailed descriptions in order to help educate the patient.

The app details what causes gout, such as disease related risk factors, along with how a diagnosis is made.

This may be a greatly beneficial part of the app in allowing prescribers to help utilize the app as a discussion point in talking about the disease state.

One interesting component of the app is that it contains PDF files that are supposed to be downloaded and then utilized by the patient. This includes a ‘uric acid tracker’ to help the patient see what their goal level is and how close they are to it.

However, on the iPad there does not seem to be anyway to either print this PDF or email it to a patient. On the Nexus 7, the document failed to even open.

Lastly, the app addresses the roles of medications and lifestyle modifications to help manage gout. In particular, the app details how certain foods can play a role in increasing serum uric acid levels and affecting gout progression.

Healthcare Goals:

Gout Channel seeks to help educate patients on gout, and addressing its causes and treatment options.

Evidence to Support Goals:

There is limited data published currently evaluating the integration of medical apps as patient education tools. Additionally, no studies are currently evaluating the benefit of educational apps on patient outcomes. As such, there is limited clinical evidence to support the goals of this app.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • App is visually appealing (on iOS platform)*
  • Information provided addresses lifestyle modification for gout management and reducing risk factors

Dislikes:

  • Some content is not accessible for use
  • The app is not as visually appealing on the Android platform* and lacks many of the visuals and animations available on the iOS
  • App may not navigate well from one screen to another (not specific for either platform)
  • Lacks information on management of acute flares

What type of provider may benefit from this app?

  • Primary care provider
  • Rheumatologist
  • Orthopedic

What type of patient may benefit from this app?

  • Patient that enjoys visualization of disease state
  • Patient with new diagnosis of gout
  • Patients with either an iOS or Android based device

Conclusions:

  • Gout Channel is a relatively simple app to help patients understand the etiology of gout, along with its treatment and management
  • Pros – Visually appealing on the iOS and language addresses key issues with gout management
  • Cons – App does not function as well on the Android OS*, and some features do not seem accessible overall

Bottom Line:

  • Gout Channel may be beneficial as a simple educational tool for patients that have a recent diagnosis of gout or may be at risk. Education may help patients understand the disease and prevention modalities that are utilized. However, some portions of the app do not seem accessible, and providers should utilize adjunct education tools alongside the app.

*App was reviewed on the Nexus 7, in addition to iPad 2, and this may be the reason why the app did not function appropriately on the Android OS at the time of the review

iTunes Link
Google Play Store Link

References:
1. Neogi T. Gout. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:443-452.

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.