Developing Apps for Researching the COVID-19 Pandemic with the TrackYourHealth Platform

Through lockdowns and other severe changes to daily life, almost everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists and medical doctors are – among others – mainly interested in researching, monitoring, and improving physical and mental health of the general population. Mobile health apps (mHealth), and apps conducting ecological momentary assessments (EMA) respectively, can help in this context. However, developing such mobile applications poses many challenges like costly software development efforts, strict privacy rules, compliance with ethical guidelines, local laws, and regulations. We present TrackYourHealth (TYH), a highly configurable, generic, and modular mobile data collection and EMA platform, which enabled us to develop and release two mobile multiplatform applications related to COVID-19 in just a few weeks. We present TYH and highlight specific challenges researchers and developers of similar apps may also face, especially when developing apps related to the medical field.

We presented this work as a paper at MOBILESoft 2021 (IEEE/ACM International Conference on Mobile Software Engineering and Systems) (co-located with ICSE 2021, International Conference on Software Engineering). You can find the full paper here (PDF).

Screenshots of the iOS version of CoronaHealth, an app build with our TrackYourHealth platform.