Their goal is inclusive, so why not the app?

Recently, while searching for a story to report about world-changing, I read a press release about MyGIHealth, which seemed quite promising. As I understood it, people with gastrointestinal problems could use a free app or website to record their symptoms, get meaningful medical feedback, and share a rich record with their physicians. This seemed like a great way to help.

And probably it is for thousands of people. But it works fully only as an iOS app, so large numbers of potential users, including me, are shut out. Surely this results from a mismatch of goals and activities.

Part of the rationale for developing such a tool is to improve people’s health by increasing their access to expertise. (Apparently, some folks are reticent to talk about poo with their doctors.) This aim is laudable, and so is the app insofar as it achieves it. So why arbitrarily limit its benefits to iOS users? That is, if the goal is to help more people, the activities – developing apps and sites – should reflect this.

One of the doctors behind the project implicitly acknowledged this issue on Twitter eleven months ago, stating that apps on Android and the web were forthcoming “in time.” I can’t find any mention of this in the press release, on the website, or on MyGIHealth’s Facebook page, so it seems as though that time is far off. Update: A press release states that version 2.0 was “developed exclusively for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.”

The MyGIHealth site features the logos of two prestigious universities, a professional association, and a prominent hospital. Kudos to them! Yet I would urge them to consider their inclusive aim in developing this potentially wonderful tool and provide a way for the majority of people to use it.

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