What makes a good consumer health application?

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle is thought to have been produced towards the end of his lifetime, from 335 until his death in 332 BC [1]. Aristotle sought to discover what makes people happy and what are the factors that lead people to have a good life.

Nicomachean Ethics concludes that good and successful people possess distinct virtues. For example, courage. Each virtue sits between two opposing vices. In this case, cowardice and recklessness.


Cowardice and recklessness diagram


Where a poorly developed app could appear useless, an app with too many features and complicated interface can become overwhelming for users. Finding the balance between those two creates a useful app.

I propose information privacy as a second factor. While utility is essential, information privacy in a health app is also important.


Utility diagram


We expect our personal health information to be kept private and secure. When we entrust our health information to a consumer health application, we expect that the application will not divulge this information to anyone else without our consent. We expect the application to use our data in the ways we intended (and agreed) to it being used (the way, the whole way, and nothing but the way!).

Privacy diagram

We expect to be able to access our information, to be able to move our information to another application if we choose. We expect to have the opportunity to remove our information from an application if we choose. We may also expect to be able reuse our information across multiple applications, without having to re-enter it into each application. We expect that our applications do not silo our information, for their own commercial advantage or otherwise.

Do you agree?

[1] Wikipedia, “Nicomachean Ethics” [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicomachean_Ethics

Image in the title:
Statue at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Post by Rob Walker

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