Despite being on the providing side of healthcare myself, even I find it difficult to keep track of my vaccination records. Due to a number of reasons (insurance coverage, availability, cost), I have had different vaccines in different places. For parents, it’s even more complicated with numerous childhood vaccines and their schedules.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute developed a free iPhone app to help parents keep their kids’ vaccination records organized. For each child, the app simply asks for their name, gender, and date of birth. The app contains Ontario’s recommended vaccination schedule, uses the calendar to alert users to upcoming recommended vaccinations, and allows for communications from public health officials. Due to the app’s popularity, it grew to target all of Canada instead of just Ontario.
The creators of the app followed data regarding how often the app was downloaded, how often it was opened by users, and for how long it was opened. They found that the rate at which users downloaded the app was related to the amount of publicity the app received.
Although there was no formal media event to mark the initial release of the app, it was covered by some Canadian newspapers. Of the 4867 downloads in the first year of the apps availability, more than half of the downloads were in the first 8 weeks. Nearly a quarter of all downloads occurred in 1 week following increased news coverage and twitter chatter.
While intuitively making sense — this study showed how direct the correlation is between media coverage of a medical app and the number of downloads it received. Another thing to consider is how media coverage can help “legitimize” a health app as well. If you’re on the fence about downloading an application that helps manage your health, reading about it in the media could tip you over to utilizing it.