Health apps,lights and shadows
According to the study “Characterization of Apps and Other e-Tools for Medication Use: Insights Into Possible Benefits and Risks” published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth; the vast availability of the technology and the little regulation policing the apps and their development are a risk for both patients and Healthcare Professionals. Nowadays, you do not need to be a medical professional or source medical input to develop a health app.
Even so, mhealth applications designed to capture real-time health information are being used to monitor and self-managing diseases, particularly regarding chronic conditions, but they also address public health problems in large populations.
Moreover, digital platforms that automatize processes replacing dated visits lower costs and save, not only HCPs but also patients and their families, an important amount of time.
Mhealth services can also strengthen education and trigger behavioral changes that help to adopt healthy habits. In addition, these apps can help patients obtain the right information at all times and better understand their diagnoses and treatments. Doing so allows them to have more to say in their treatment and empower them to take to take more responsibility.
On the other hand, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mobile health apps "meet the definition of a medical device and are an accessory to a regulated medical device or transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device." In this sense there are a number of doctors and researchers that alert on the risk of patients taking too much control and overcome the medical treatment.
Whereas, both HCPs and patients are using already these tools, policy makers haven’t yet arrive to regulate this new environment. Last year, the FDA issued the “final guidance for developers of mobile medical apps”. The organization focus on regulating a small number of medical apps that they deem high-risk for consumers, such as mobile apps that are intended to be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device, which is a first step but still not enough.
As for Europe, this transformation is even slower, last January the European Commission announced the beginning of a project in order to develop mHealth app guidelines and created a working group for verifying mHealth app data.
Health apps, have access to highly detailed, personally identifiable and clinical information about end-users. Security and privacy are big issues, raising questions about permission control and confidentiality, as well as the integrity of the infrastructure.
There is also a need to clarify how to ensure practicalities of data storage and management, availability and maintenance of the network, as well as compatibility and interoperability.
Finally, a comprehensive data-exchange in health systems in most cases fails at the outset because of the lack of IT-infrastructure in hospitals and little interconnection to other regional and national health institutions.
So, do apps do more harm or good?
This is the million dollar question we want our experts to discuss about and you’ll be the judge of whether their arguments are enlightening and may help to clarify the answer. Follow us #Healthappscombat
- Bastian Hauck (#dedoc°) vs Fredrik Debong (mySugr)
- Keynote speaker: Lars Kalfhaus (Emminens)
- Moderators: Min-Sing Kim (XLHealth) & Carla Arrieta (Roche Diabetes Care Spain)
- Last remarks: Karolina Korth (Emminens)
Presented by Roche.