Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Benefits and Dangers of Medical Apps

There is an app for just about everything. Health care is no exception. Medical apps are a booming business. According to Research2Guidance - a mobile industry tracker - estimates, by 2017 half of the world's 3.4 billion smartphone users will have downloaded a health app. Current medical apps can help you:

  1. count calories
  2. track exercise and physical activity
  3. remind you to take medication
  4. track your menstrual cyclic
  5. track ovulation 
  6. track immunization records
  7. track doctor appointments
  8. track your medical conditions (like headaches, allergies, blood pressure, etc)
  9. learn more about medical conditions
  10. learn medical terminology

What's great about these apps is that they encourages patients to be more involved with their health care. The apps are quick and easy to use. They are informational. And they help you achieve your health care goals.

But-all that glitters is not gold. Some of these apps are collecting very sensitive information about you, like your medical conditions, your diet, your medication, and your sexual activity. Many users assume it's like a doctor/patient relationship-your information is confidential. Unfortunately, that's not true. Most apps are not subject to federal laws that safeguard your information. So users should take caution before using an app.

What are some things you can do to protect your privacy?
  • Look for privacy policies. Don't download an app without one.
  • Question what is being done with your information. Is it sold to other companies? Shared with advertisers? Is it stored safely? If you cannot answer these questions, don't use the app. 
  • Ask yourself-if your information was made public, how would you feel about it? If you don't like the idea, don't use the app.

How do you feel about medical apps? Do the benefits outweigh the dangers? Would you like to see laws that protect your information? Share your thoughts below.

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