Risks of Using Mobile Health Apps

According to FDA, there are 500 million smartphone users worldwide expected to use a mobile health app this year, and 50% of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health apps by 2018.

A recent survey by Grand Rounds found that 60% of users know nothing about any mobile health apps available for them. However, the most important thing for patients is to have access to resources allowing them to effectively research the physician’s background, credentials and reviews, rather than go blindly into a mobile app that promises to connect them with a doctor.

It is important to know that not every app is tuned to consort with the demands of each employee. Setting in those apps with do-everything approach may literally reduce overall health benefits. For instance, Apple’s Health app raised hue and cry when it was first announced and, with the prevalence of the iPhone, it was certain to become widespread among millions of people around the world. Nevertheless, pitifully to Apple and Apple users, it was not compliant with the in-house standards in the United Kingdom and Australia. Unfortunately, the aforementioned app wasn’t properly designed to solve the problem.

In order to avoid this, it would be useful to estimate what kind of medical conditions has to be addressed as, for example, people tend to bump into health problems related to the high degree of cancer or sports injuries, or pediatrics. On the other hand, employees may need help locating primary care physicians in accordance with the company’s medical networks. Realizing all the possible challenges that employees might face will result in comprehension about potential problems that mobile app can help to tackle.

To all intents and purposes, a low-quality health app can work great mischief instead of assist with problems. A recent study in BMJ Quality and Safety demonstrates that nearly 12 million, or one in 20 adult outpatients, are misdiagnosed in the United States annually. Another survey conducted by Grand Rounds is even more thrilling: 88% of respondents say they either have experienced or know someone who has experienced a severe misdiagnosis, botched or unnecessary surgery resulting from misdiagnosis.

Thereby, speaking well for such apps could presuppose a liability for employees in case such sort of incident occurred and, taking into account the facts mentioned above, it is a dramatic risk. When estimating mobile apps, benefits professionals should not become too passionate about the speed and convenience, but they should direct a special attention to ensuring that the app can meet an eminently high-quality standard.

Another disadvantage of health mobile apps is that most of them do a poor job in terms of information security, opening the way for data breaches. The October 2014 California Data Breach Report found the healthcare sector to be second in data security breaches after retail and defined the lack of appropriate encoding.

But through it all, the use of mobile health apps can become a tremendous advantage for employee benefits. Having the right app in the hands employees can be provided high-quality medical care even faster. It can also encourage employees to take care at a critical juncture. What is more, mobile health continues to grow and is likely to see new regulations helping to assess, mitigate and manage risks.

And what risks of using mobile health apps have you faced?

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