Delete All Your Apps

A good question to ask yourself when evaluating your apps is “why does this app exist?” If it exists because it costs money to buy, or because it’s the free app extension of a service that costs money, then it is more likely to be able to sustain itself without harvesting and selling your data. If it’s a free app that exists for the sole purpose of amassing a large amount of users, then chances are it has been monetized by selling data to advertisers.

Koebler, J. (2018). Delete all your apps.

This is a useful heuristic for making quick decisions about whether or not you should have that app installed on your phone. Another good rule of thumb: “If you’re not paying for the product then you are the product.” Your personal data is worth a lot to companies who are either going to use it to refine their own AI-based platforms (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or who will sell your (supposedly anonymised) data to those companies. This is how things work now…you give them your data (connections, preferences, brand loyalty, relationships, etc.) and they give you a service “for free”. But as we’re seeing more and more, it really isn’t free. This is especially concerning when you realise how often your device and apps are “phoning home” with reports about you and your usage patterns, sometimes as frequently as every 2 seconds.

On a related note, if you’re interested in a potential technical solution to this problem you may want to check out Solid (social linked data) by Tim Berners-Lee, which will allow you to maintain control of your personal information but still share it with 3rd parties under conditions that you specify.

Proposal abstract: The use of medical and health-related smartphone apps by South African physiotherapists (a survey)

Abstract for a proposal I submitted earlier this week. This proposal is part of a larger project where we are developing an evaluation tool for decision-making around app use for physiotherapists in clinical practice, determining reliability of a range of pedometer apps on different hardware platforms, and evaluating the information provided by the top exercise-prescription apps. This proposal describes a national survey of South African physiotherapists around their app use in clinical practice. After the project concludes later this year we will prepare a report for physiotherapists interested in using medical and health-related apps as part of their professional practice.

The medical literature now refers to the practice of “prescribing apps” to patients, who monitor their activity and use the resulting data to change their behaviours and help reduce the risks associated with their condition. Mobile apps are expected to play an increasingly important role in health care, where patient data can be shared with health providers and funders to support decision-making at higher levels in the health system. Among physiotherapists there is evidence demonstrating that clinicians are using apps more frequently at the bedside, with the aim of increasing efficiency by enabling more rapid decision-making at the point of care.

Medical and health-related apps are increasing in number and scope on a daily basis. With the proliferation of apps providing medical and health-related information for both professionals and consumers, it is important to determine if these apps can be safely recommended for patients and healthcare professionals. However, there is a very limited evidence-base to inform decision-making when it comes to choosing and using medical and health-related mobile apps as part of clinical practice. In order to begin making informed decisions about how to make effective use of mobile apps in healthcare, there is a need for data describing current uses of apps by physiotherapists in the South African context. This study therefore aims to determine South African physiotherapists’ use of medical and health-related apps as part of their professional practice.


This project makes use of a cross-sectional, descriptive design that aims to provide a snapshot of the profile of medical and health-related app use among South African physiotherapists. A survey will be conducted within this population in order to develop a better understanding of this emerging field of research in the South African physiotherapy context.

The population for the survey will include all South African physiotherapists who are registered with the SASP in 2015. There are currently about 3500 registered physiotherapists with the SASP and all will be invited to participate in the online survey. A self-administered questionnaire was developed using the available literature and will be piloted among 3rd year physiotherapy students in the University of the Western Cape Department of Physiotherapy. The questionnaire includes mostly closed-ended questions that aim to identify how physiotherapists make use of medical and health-related apps, as well as their experiences around the use of those apps as part of their professional practice.

The questionnaire will be administered using Google Forms, and the link to the survey emailed to all qualified physiotherapists who are registered with the South African Society of Physiotherapy. Since the survey will be conducted online, data will automatically be captured in a spreadsheet with no opportunity for errors in the data capturing process. The data will then be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet.

The data gathered will be analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive data will be presented using frequencies and tables, and inferential statistics will be used to determine relationships between variables. In particular, we will look at the relationships between participant demographic information and trends related to app use.

New article published to Clinical Teacher mobile app

I’ve just published a new article on Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs) to my Clinical Teacher mobile app. An early draft of the article is available here. Here are some screenshots from the app.

You can download the app for iOS or for Android.

Writing for The Clinical Teacher mobile app

I’ve been spending less time on The Clinical Teacher mobile app over the past month or so, having realised that I need to focus on finishing my PhD. Unfortunately, this means that I haven’t been able to put out another article in more than two months.

The Clinical Teacher is a mobile reference app (currently only for the iPad and iPhone but soon for Android as well) aimed at clinicians, clinical supervisors and clinical educators who are interested in improving their teaching practices. The idea is to develop relatively short summaries (5-10 pages) of concepts related to teaching and learning practice in the clinical context, integrating rich media with academic rigor. Think of the app as a library within which articles are published and available for download, and the content as being something between a blog post and a journal publication.

To give you an idea of the content that we’re looking for, these are the articles that are currently available in The Clinical Teacher:

  • Peer review of teaching practice
  • Delphi studies in clinical research
  • Small group teaching
  • How to write an academic article
  • Assessing clinical competence with the mini-CEX
  • Authentic learning in clinical education

I do have an article that I’ve been working on sporadically over the past few months, about using social media for professional development, and I’m hoping to send that to the designer in the next few days. But, after that there isn’t anything in the pipeline for a few months, which means that it’s going to be closer to December by the time the next article is ready. Which brings me to the point of this post.

If you’re an academic or clinician and you’d like to write something for The Clinical Teacher, please feel free to get in touch with me. If you’re not completely comfortable writing on your own, I can hook you up with a more experienced author to work with. Topics can be clinical, theoretical, ethical, practical or research-related, so let me know if you’re interested.

Note: Even though the articles are not free to download, I don’t make any money from this app. I charge the minimum amount that Apple allows and use the income to pay the app developer and content designer. However, if you contribute an article, you will receive 40% of the total sales for that article (Apple takes 30% of everything sold in their ecosystem, and the app developer gets 30%).

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-06-04

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-07

  • @RonaldArendse @vivboz I nominate Ronald for the nomination #
  • @RonaldArendse @vivboz it was a good coffee and a good chat. Nomination not necessary, but flattered 🙂 #
  • RT @snapplify: iMaverick App now available for Android devices – #
  • RT @clin_teacher: The Small Group Teaching article is available for download in The Clinical Teacher. #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-30