Use of Mobile Health Care Apps on the Rise

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There are over 31,000 health, fitness, and medical related apps currently on the market with virtually no regulation or oversight from the government o...

There are over 31,000 health, fitness, and medical related apps currently on the market with virtually no regulation or oversight from the government or private companies. Earlier this year, HealthLeaders Media reported, “the healthcare app industry is a boomtown generating hundreds of new apps each month with most designed for use on mobile devices.”  Some are starting to question the legitimacy of these apps and whether they are hurting or helping. Mark Anderson, CEO of healthcare IT consulting firm says, “There are hundreds of apps that really work and are completely legitimate. But there are also a lot of apps manufactured by ‘snake oil salesmen’ who promote them with a lot of misleading information.”

Physicians think the apps are of real value. eClinicalWorks performed a survey that revealed nine in ten physicians are in favor of mobile health apps, particularly when integrated with electronic health records (EHR’s). Recently we reported that the use of EHR systems were on the rise in the US and are already in wide use in other countries. It only makes sense that mobile health app integration is next to appear in the health care industry.

The University of California, San Francisco started an Online Cardiovascular Study that harnesses the power of mobile technology to help monitor patients using their smartphones and sends the information to doctors for analysis. This up-to-date mobile technology allows doctors to analyze data and immediately provide feedback. The smartphone technology measures participant’s heart rate, blood pressure and pulse rate. Unlike the Farmingham Heart Study, which only collected patient data only once every two years, the UCSF study can gather information from the participants mobile devices several times a day allowing for a more comprehensive study.

Physicians are extremely excited about health care apps, but they still need overcome some obvious hurdles. The apps carry a potential risk to patients if they do not work properly. The US Food and Drug Administration released guidelines concerning medical apps in July 2011. They are currently working with app developers to find the best way to ensure patients safety with the apps without hindering innovation. The FDA reported that apps will not require approval unless they control the delivery of insulin or are used in a way that depends on the apps accuracy. 

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