E-Health: Government warns of risks from medical apps
Thousands of smartphone apps for health, fitness and medicine are now available on the market. You can use it to measure your heart rate, be reminded of the pill and even make initial diagnoses. The apps can do a lot, but they don't replace a doctor. They also harbor some risks, especially with regard to data protection.
Few apps with real therapeutic claims
There are now more and more apps available on the market that are intended to serve health. Some measure heart rate and metabolism, others serve as a blood pressure monitor, pain diary, pill alarm clock or nutritional advisor. The trend of digital self-monitoring is viewed very critically by many people. Experts complain that there are only a few useful health apps. Few have a real diagnostic and therapeutic claim. This is the result of a study sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Health for the Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics. The Federal Ministry of Health published the results of the study in a current press release.
Clear quality and safety standards for patients
Health apps should normally support people and help them, explains Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU) in the message: "For many, apps are already an incentive to exercise more, to eat healthier - and they support z. B. also with the regular taking of medication. ”The politician demands an agreement on“ clear quality and safety standards ”for patients, doctors and app developers. There are now more than 100,000 different apps related to medicine and health. The huge selection does not make it easy for citizens and medical professionals to identify good offers among the many bad apps, adds Gröhe. There is currently a kind of wild growth on the app market. This must be contained urgently, the researchers say. Better ways to identify useful apps are needed. The apps are often designed as short-term successes, explains the study director and deputy director of the Reichertz Institute, Urs-Vito Albrecht. The institute is operated jointly by the Technical University of Braunschweig and the Hannover Medical School.
Study provides starting points for further discussions
The development of apps for smartphones and tablets has to change fundamentally and manufacturers should urgently develop programs that are safe and trustworthy, the researchers say. We also need more detailed research into the effectiveness of such apps. "Basically, the evidence on the subject is thin, which makes an objective assessment of the benefits of the technology extremely difficult," explains study leader Albrecht. The current study is intended to provide a kind of basis for a scientific inventory of the sector. The study, entitled "Opportunities and Risks of Health Apps" (CHARISMHA), provides various starting points for further discussions between doctors, politicians, industry and users.
Apps often fail to comply with data protection regulations
Data protection is a major problem with so-called medical apps, explains the Federal Ministry of Health. Apps often fail to comply with data protection regulations, the ministry said. It is imperative to give consumers better help, experts at the Reichertz Institute add. Many people see apps as a kind of incentive to eat healthier or to exercise more. Some apps also help sick people take medication. For this reason, it is important that those involved ensure that the products also bring real benefits for the patients, the scientists demand. Such apps would then have to reach the market as quickly as possible. "The study presented is an important basis for the specialist dialogue with experts and responsible persons in the healthcare system, which we now want to enter," explains Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe.
Diagnostic and therapy apps should be encouraged
The study also recommends promoting the further scientific evaluation of prevention apps as well as apps for diagnostics and therapy in order to create more evidence. According to the researchers' recommendation, it is essential to check whether so-called medical apps should be included in the regular health insurance coverage. Before that, however, the scientists need to clarify whether the effectiveness of apps can be evaluated in the clinical studies that are common today. (as, ad)