Using a Bottom-Up/Top-Down Approach to Developing a hApp Catalog
By Barbara A. Green, Ph.D., Senior Vice PresidentFebruary 16, 2012
About a year ago, Happtique embarked on a mission to develop an app catalog designed to make it easier for healthcare providers and consumers to find medical and health apps—or hApps, as we call them at Happtique. Our participation in the Apple Store® Affiliate Program affords us the ability to organize and display iOS apps in Happtique. Although we can categorize any app, under Apple’s program, we get a feed from the iTunes® store, which, thankfully, greatly facilitates the process. Consequently, to date we’ve concentrated on categorizing iOS apps.
As we have reported previously, a team consisting of a nationally renowned medical librarian, a physician, and a nurse developed our classification system, which today consists of 319 categories divided into three major areas – Apps by Profession (155 categories), Apps for Professionals by Topic (70 categories), and Apps for Patients and Consumers (94 categories). This classification system was devised using a bottom-up approach—meaning that our team reviewed thousands of apps to get a comprehensive picture of the topics they address—coupled with a top-down approach—meaning that the team also reviewed outside references, such as physician and nurse specialties designated by the American Board of Medical Specialties and various state Boards of Nursing. Blending the two approaches led to the categories we now have in place. Going forward, we will refine the categories as needed and have plans to add subcategories under additional professions, such as Administrator, Dentist/Dental Professional, Pharmacist, and Social Worker.
Since defining the categories, Happtique has retained a team of curators—mostly physicians and nurses—who have been systematically reviewing and classifying apps into these categories. To date, we have curated 7,775 individual apps, hope to hit 10,000 by the end of February, and expect to have the remaining 15,000+ iOS apps completed in a few more months. Thereafter, we’ll classify any new iOS apps while we begin categorizing and displaying apps for Android™ and other platforms.
Thus far, our experience shows that each app is assigned to an average of four categories. So, while the numbers change daily due to ongoing classification, Happtique’s 319 categories currently display a total of 29,751 apps. Admittedly, this is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, but our hope is that this effort makes finding apps significantly easier and more intuitive.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re an iOS medical or health app developer and don’t see your app in Happtique, it could be because it’s in the queue waiting to be classified. But, if you drop me a note (email@example.com), I’ll see what I can do to move it up! Likewise, if your app is already in Happtique and you think we either overlooked a category or included it in a category that’s not the right fit, please send me a note with your suggestions and we’ll be happy to review our categorization.