danger of health apps

The 120th Congress of the German Medical Congress was themed “Digitalization.” And, health apps were a major topic of discussion. And why not. Apps store are loaded with more than 100,000 health applications ranging from retinal cameras to automatic exercise logs.

Only a tiny portion of the health apps are certified as medical products. That’s fine for a calorie counter. Chalk that one up to entertainment. But others that pose as a substitute for a doctor are a clear and present danger. A perfect example is a camera app that photographs skin conditions, moles or lesions and diagnose cancer.

The BAEK Congress did call out two apps it deemed as useful. An app that monitors heart rhythm, and a treatment for tinnitus that uses custom composed music.

“In the jungle of offerings, the search for a reputable and reliable application is a game of chance. And the chance of hitting the mark is slim,” concludes a joint study by the Braunschweig University of Technology and the Hanover Medical School,” it says.

Many app developers are less than rigorous about data security, which raises privacy concerns for physicians and lay users.

Expect tougher regulations and labeling from medical apps on both sides of the pond.