Reviewer: Chris Lawrence, Community Physiotherapist
Date of review: October 2022
Platform and Version: Android (1.0.18) and Apple (1.2 Build 1)
Comments: The Pain Guru app is designed for individuals with lower back pain. The app helps with confirming a diagnosis, and provides information on different treatment options.
Overall, this app has the potential to be quite helpful. There are certainly challenges in New Zealand with the long delays getting in to see orthopaedic and pain management specialists. The concept of an app that could help with getting the right information, quickly, is a good one.
The diagnosis section of this app is good, and based on these questions (acknowledging the app based restrictions of this process) is likely to be fairly accurate.
The concerns at present are the way that treatment options are displayed. All treatment options are listed in a way that it is not necessarily obvious which is the right option for them to be trying.
Additionally, people with very minor episodes of back pain could become anxious reading through the different options, especially hearing about surgery.
Some of the views of different treatment options are controversial, and wouldn’t be widely endorsed by the entire medical profession.
At present, this app is an improvement on an individual googling their symptoms and trying to work out their diagnosis. This app would provide a more accurate diagnosis section, than an internet search. However, as it stands, the treatment section needs to be developed a bit further before it would be strongly recommended.
Safety concerns: There are obvious restrictions as to how accurately an app can diagnose an injury. An app cannot take into account any observation, movement, palpation, special tests or investigations that are typically included in an assessment.
As far as app-based diagnosing goes, the questioning is pretty good. However, of concern was the fact that it wasn’t clear when a user needed to be going to see a professional, based on the findings of their diagnosis.
New Zealand relevance: The app is created in NZ. There are no obvious statements around ACC or the NZ Health system.