What happens when a medical app…vanishes?

You have just entered The App Twilight Zone…. Our readers know that concussion and diagnosis have been a focus of this Editor’s, and validating apps a focus of Editor Charles’, who brought this to my attention. The app’s name: The Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2). The news report states: “It contains all the essentials you would want in a concussion app: a graded symptoms checklist, cognitive testing, balance testing, Glasgow coma scale, Maddocks score, baseline score ability, serial evaluation, and password protected information-sharing via email.”  The plot: it was deactivated without warning or notice by the developer, Inovapp (link to sketchy CrunchBase profile) yet still listed on the iTunes store.

What happened? There was a modified standard (SCAT3) developed in 2012, which updated SCAT2 with non-critical additions: indications for emergency management, a slightly more extensive background section, a neck exam and more detailed return-to-play instructions. SCAT3 is only available on (inconvenient) paper. No word from Inovapp on why it discontinued the app nor any plans for updating.

The SCAT2 had gained, in a short time, a following among coaches and sports medical professionals because it was the first app based upon the international standard (Zurich, 2008, 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport) transferring a paper assessment tool to an easy to use app. In fact, the NHL (National Hockey League) has its own version. The revised 2012 standards  Users have a right to be upset, but moreover, this points to a glaring shortcoming of medical apps–their developers vanishing into the night without a by-your-leave. And read the comments by (mainly) doctors on securing patient information after the app is used (HIPAA standards) and one physician’s criticism of apps such as this as a ‘crutch’.  A Pointer to the Future we don’t want to see. The authors Irfan Husain and Iltifat Husain, MD are to be congratulated. Popular app being used to manage concussions fails, failing patients (iMedicalApps)

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