Can the Healthcare industry control health apps? Their solution isn’t an answer. People have taken to health apps and the industry bodies have noticed. With apps for blood pressure, sugar levels and diets to name a few. There are apparently over 40,000 apps for mobile devices at this stage and it will grow rapidly.
With more apps to come, the industry bodies and government want to control the channels. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA)is attempting to regulate apps that claim to diagnose medical conditions or offer medical advice. These guidelines means apps must prove they’re safe and effective before being sold. Soon other healthcare authorities in other countries will follow suit.
This solution has drawbacks. Firstly, it can stifle industry innovation through the rigid regulatory structure by alienating developers due to the expensive and time-consuming nature of this process. Secondly, government and professional bodies take several months in the approval process. With the rate of technological change, this process can’t handle the speed, flexibility and innovation the industry needs.
In Australia and England, there is no such body that regulates healthcare apps. However, medical negligence lawyers in Australia have suggested that app creators and distributors could be sued if something goes wrong just like manufacturers and distributors of drug or medical devices. No cases so far.
The solution isn’t about control, but greater transparency by the healthcare industry. They need to embrace social media and apps. So how do they do that? A solution is to build their own apps for their industry so that people have free safe apps. If they aren’t willing to build it, then they need to work with developers to produce it. People are going to “self-diagnose” themselves with technology because the profession isn’t listening to their needs. The government, professional bodies and developers should come together to develop regulations for mobile health that’s flexible to the speed of technology for the good of the community. There will also come a time when medical practitioners will recommend apps for their patients health and welfare. Do you think the healthcare industry should control apps? Should the healthcare industry create their apps? Will medical practitioners recommend apps in the future?
Related and Contributing Articles
- FDA Works Towards Regulating Medical Apps by Kirstin Hendrickson (highlighthealth.org)
- Medical apps bump up against regulators by Jenny Gold (usatoday.com)
- Health apps on a slippery legal slope by Adrian Lowe (canberratimes.com.au)