Apps, apps, apps – health, care, wellbeing: must-reads for developers

Last week we covered two calls for health & care app developers: the ADASS apps event, which is looking for apps presenters, and PatientView which is looking for developers’ feedback on what they need when developing health & wellbeing apps; today we focus on medical app news.

PatientView has just released the results of their previous survey entitled “What do patients and carers need in health apps – but are not getting?” This analyses the views of 1,130 patient and carer groups worldwide. The needs and challenges raised were then discussed in a multi-stakeholder meeting held to help define concepts for new apps that address patient and carer unmet real needs. An essential read for health & care apps developers.

Staying just a little longer on statistics, the CTIA resource library has some interesting primarily US-oriented items including a recent item entitled “One in Five US Consumers Use Mobile Apps for Exercise Tracking”.

As many will be aware, this editor has argued for 18 months now in these columns (& elsewhere) for an official approval process for medical apps that includes a measure of efficacy, so they can be compared, where appropriate, with other forms of intervention such as drugs (in the case of treatment for depression, anxiety and pain relief). Workstream 1.2 of the National Information Board has now published their roadmap (disclosure: this editor is on the Advisory Board of 1.2 and two others) which describes how they plan to tackle this topic.

At the same time MIT has now announced the establishment of the Hacking Medicine Institute. This will assess whether digital health products and services really work and, if they do, help them to prove their efficacy to consumers, doctors, and insurers, possibly introducing a little competition which should speed things up nicely. (For a more detailed review of the workstreams including DHACA’s involvement, go to the DHACA website blog – you will need to become a member if you aren’t already, however it’s free).

The Australians have also just produced the MARS (Mobile App Rating Scale) for ranking medical apps. They conclude that: (more…)

An important intervention on mHealth from the EU Data Protection Supervisor

At the end of last week, the EU Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published an excellent document entitled Mobile Health – Reconciling technological innovation with data protection. To quote the press release:

Failure to deploy data protection safeguards will result in a critical loss of individual trust, leading to fewer opportunities for public authorities and businesses, hampering the development of the health market. To foster confidence, future policies need to encourage more accountability of service providers and their associates; place respect for the choices of individuals at their core; end the indiscriminate collection of personal information and any possible discriminatory profiling; encourage privacy by design and privacy settings by default; and enhance the security of the technologies used.

The document itself contains much of interest. To this editor, who has heard many people poo-poo the importance of wellbeing data, it was good to see:

Lifestyle and well-being data will, in general, be considered health data, when they are processed in a medical context (e.g. the app is used upon advice of a patient’s doctor) or where information regarding an individual’s health may reasonably be inferred from the data (in itself, or combined with other information), especially when the purpose of the application is to monitor the health or well-being of the individual (whether in a medical context or otherwise). (Page 5)

As someone who gets concerned at turning people off sharing their health data, it was nice to see the recognition that: (more…)