Montgomery, MD– Are you using a mobile app to track a health condition, get medical advice, or simply to stay in shape?
Consumers and health care professionals have access to a wide variety of mobile health applications that can help patients improve their health and wellbeing, as well as better manage their medical conditions.
Earlier last month, we found this infographic on pharma apps and noted that today’s top pharma apps are focused on everyday wellbeing rather than chronic conditions, while many of these health apps are left with zero reviews and little activity.
With more and more apps promising similar purposes, how do we know which ones to trust? Do we have to be concerned about the accuracy of information and health advice they provide?
Mobile Medical vs General Wellness Apps
First, let’s distinguish between medical and general health or wellness apps.
A medical app can be defined as a medical device and its functionality could pose a risk to the patient’s safety if the mobile app did not function as intended. According to FDA.gov, a mobile medical app is intended to either “be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device; or to transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device.”
If a mobile health app is defined as a medical device, the FDA has the right to apply the same risk-based approach to assure safety and effectiveness as it does for other medical devices. An example of a medical app would be an app to manage insulin doses for diabetic patients.
Health apps intended for general wellness encourage a healthy lifestyle and serve low risk to the consumer. Examples of health mobile apps that would not be regulated include apps for general patient educations, tracking schedule or diets, and providing access to medical literature.
So, which ones can we trust?
Medical apps that can help you with a certain condition are often designed in collaboration with lawyers and medical professionals. Before you download an app, make sure it’s reputable, gets updated regularly, and discuss its intention with your doctor.
As far as general wellness apps go – do what helps you stay motivated, but stay skeptical about health advice if you don’t know the source.
What apps do you use and trust? Let us know in the comments below!