Health Apps Raise Medical Concerns: Pros

The vast majority of them are jobless, increasing concerns for both physicians and people from the legal community, although more than 165,000 health-related apps are available to obtain on telephones that are smart.

Health apps run the gamut from health to fertility, mental wellbeing to diabetes. Consumers frequently input their intimate information based on a professor in IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law, Lori Andrews.

“These are miniature surveillance apparatus,” stated Andrews. “(Our telephones) are on us at all times.”

Andrews analyzed a sample of the best 400 health apps and says she found holes in data privacy. For one, Andrews stated that an overwhelming majority of these apps didn’t have privacy policies.

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“We discovered over 70 percent shared that amorous health information with data aggregators, a number of those who supplied that information to life insurers and health insurance companies,” Andrews explained.

What is debatable, Andrews explained, is app developers aren’t breaking the rules. Those very same regulations do not apply to a vast majority of app developers while medical institutions and physicians are bounded by HIPAA laws to safeguard information and data privacy.

“The consumer might find the impression that she is simply monitoring her own health. She may not realize there are real downsides to that information being shared with third parties such as life insurers who might then deny her insurance since she is not maintaining her diabetes in check or she has had a lot of miscarriages or things which may indicate a larger health issue,” Andrews explained.

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According to a July 2016 Consumer Reports study, findings discovered the popular Glow Pregnancy App had security flaws that “would be easy for stalkers, online bullies or identity thieves to use the information they gathered on Glow’s users.” The report stated updated the app and Glow worked fast to correct the vulnerabilities.

Based on physicians and Andrews, a key concern of health apps is that a lot are not backed by science. A minority of health care apps consult with a doctor or health care provider in growth, based on Dr. Sherif Badawy, a hematologist and oncologist in Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Such as one instance where inconsistencies were discovered in apps that purported to help with conversion calculations, he emphasized some risks, in the published report on medical smartphone apps of Badawy.

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“That can be harmful and lethal,” explained Badawy. “No one is supervising it so a patient can download a program, open it, but maybe that information is wrong.”

The Food and Drug Administration regulates mobile apps that serve as a medical device, an app that pops up to a EKG center monitor, by way of instance.

“The FDA targets on its regulatory oversight on only a tiny subset of mobile applications that may impact the operation or operation of currently controlled medical devices and may pose a threat to patients in case they don’t function as intended,” said an FDA spokeswoman within an email.

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In recent decades, the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on apps for advertisements.

In 2015, the FTC settled with a single app developer whose “Mole Detective” household of apps instructed users to have a photograph of their own moles, then purported to ascertain the consumers’ risk of melanoma. The complaint settled and agreed to stop making promises concerning the app’s capacity to detect melanoma without having evidence to back those claims up.  

“You simply have to know what you’re getting yourself into and comprehend the risk and benefits which many of these companies don’t describe,” explained Badawy.

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