Physician Practice

Mobile health apps slowly gain traction

Physician Practice Insider, October 4, 2016

Mobile health apps are becoming more sophisticated and reliable, but experts say they’re still a long way from becoming a mainstream tool to help physicians and patients manage chronic health conditions.

When cell phone use began to reach critical mass among consumers a decade ago, mobile health apps began proliferating and now number in the thousands. But without regulation, quality control, or a method to reimburse physicians for their use, apps have been relegated to providing supplemental information for physicians or being used as tools in larger programs focused on telemedicine or remote patient monitoring.

“The mobile app business is a little like the wild, wild West,” says Jack Chou, MD, a family physician in Baldwin Park, California. “The concepts behind most of these apps are great, and I’m sure they’re developed with the best intentions. But the question is, will they actually work?”

With the FDA expressing little interest in vetting mobile health apps, there’s currently no regulatory framework for an app marketplace. That also means there’s no reliable source of information for physicians and consumers who are interested in using apps but want ones that actually work.

“There’s no oversight for apps out there, though Apple® seems to have a little more control over their apps,” says Chou.

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the August 2016 issue.

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