The Health Navigator app library is a New Zealand-based resource to help New Zealanders identify safe, useful and relevant health apps.
The apps in the library are reviewed by our team and then independently reviewed by clinicians in the relevant field. This makes it quick and easy for you to find trusted apps you can use to make a difference to your health. This initiative is supported by the Ministry of Health and is overseen by the NZ App Library Advisory Group.
On this page you will find information on:
App selection process
Select app category
Apps are added in groups (a category) relating to a health condition or aspect of healthy living. The categories we review are usually determined in response to requests from the Health Navigator editorial team, external requests from clinicians and consumers or from searching other independent app review websites.
Identify specific apps within the chosen category
Once a category has been identified, we carry out a search to work out which apps to include. We discover new apps in a number of different ways, including:
- a literature review of research papers
- published reviews of individual or categories of apps on other independent app review websites
- searches on Apple and Google Play app stores
- trending apps on social media and popular news
- being alerted by app developers about new, relevant apps
- through our supporter organisations and networks
- through website users, including consumers using the apps.
We then do another literature search to help identify useful features and criteria to assess apps within that category (eg, functionality features desirable in medicine reminder apps).
Based on the app description, we then download apps within the category and assess whether they meet our inclusion criteria.
New Zealand apps
We want to review apps that New Zealanders are using. So, our policy is to prioritise New Zealand-developed apps over international apps, as well as apps focused on Māori and Pasifika audiences that have been co-designed with consumers and clinicians.
|New Zealand-developed apps|
|If you are a developer and would like your app reviewed, please complete the app screening tool.|
The main inclusion criteria are that the app must have an English language option, and should be widely available rather than have restricted access.
Both New Zealand and non-New Zealand-based apps are included. We mainly include free apps but also consider some paid apps.
If an app meets our inclusion criteria, it then goes through our review process.
App review process
The app review process comprises 4 stages: internal review, New Zealand relevance review, clinical review, and user review.
During the internal review, the features, functionality and information quality of the app are assessed, bearing in mind the main purpose of the app and its target audience. A summary of the pros and cons or likes and dislikes of the app is created.
New Zealand relevance review
In addition, the relevance to a New Zealand audience is assessed. This highlights aspects of the app that may not be relevant to New Zealand users, such as units of measurement requiring complex conversions or food databases that include products not available in New Zealand.
Once an internal and New Zealand-relevance review have been carried out, and if the app has been deemed useful, a clinical review is then carried out. This is done by a health professional working in the relevant clinical area.
This review aims to gauge the clinical value of the app and its relevance. It also highlights any safety issues.
Based on the clinical review and overall impression of the app, the clinical reviewer assigns a score to the app (5 = very good, 4 = good, 3 = neutral, 2 = poor, 1 = very poor and therefore not recommended). This displays as a star rating on the app review or as not recommended.
This final review is to find out whether the app does what a user expects it to, and includes the reviewer identifying what they like and dislike about the app.
Apps are excluded if they are deemed to be clinically unsafe or potentially harmful to users. Other reasons for excluding apps include incomplete content, functionality issues and security or privacy issues. The app name and the reason for exclusion are documented on the app category overview page.
We offer more than reviews. Based on our findings from literature searches, we provide guidance on what to consider when choosing from a category of apps, such as how to choose pain management apps. We also have information on how to use apps safely, eg, tips when using blood pressure apps.
Where there are lots of apps within a specific category and we can’t review all of them, we identify independent organisations that have reviewed these apps, eg, this is what we did for apps related to autism spectrum disorder.
Despite our efforts to provide you with the information you need to choose a health app, there are some limitations to this process.
First, although we download and test apps, we rely to some extent on the description on the app website and developer-provided documentation. We do not do independent testing to validate claims.
Second, as with all reviews, each review reflects the opinion of the reviewer, in this case a clinician with relevant expertise.
If you are unsure about whether an app is right for you, you can discuss this with your healthcare provider.
NZ App Library Advisory Group
We are grateful to also have the expertise and input from a wide range of clinical, business and consumer advisors.
|Advisory group includes:|
If you're unsure about how to choose a health app, need information on how to improve your safety and security when using an app, or are thinking of developing a health app, check out the following Health Navigator guides.
Guides to choosing an app
Safety and security
Developing a health app
Sign up for our free quarterly newsletter
This provides a brief update on recently added app reviews, interesting papers and what to know if you're thinking of creating an app.
Click here to subscribe