Anybody (and their dog) can create medical apps

By Brian Dolan
02:42 pm
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From the "we-already-knew-that-but-let's-revisit" department: The Montreal Gazette has a provocative piece on the fears and concerns that at least some health practitioners have about mobile medical apps.

"Access to health information at the touch of a finger represents a technological advance leading to efficient health-care service provision for some," The University of Regina's Kristi Wright, an assistant professor of psychology, told the Montreal Gazette. "(But) for others, it may serve as a catalyst for continued disability and dysfunction."

Wright's thesis is that having the ability to look up medical issues on mobile apps may lead to the spread of misinformation and heightened fears about potential conditions. (How is this a new conversation -- isn't this issue as old as the Internet itself? Older?)

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"Anybody and their dog can make a medical app, so it's really important to research the companies behind these things," says Candice Volney, a nurse from Edmonton. "Some of the diagnoses that come up when people enter their symptoms can be scary, and very deceiving."

Fair enough -- and perhaps worth repeating. Here's some more positive remarks from a doctor's experience using mobile apps in their practice:

"I can look up doses of medications, costs, alternative medications for a variety of conditions, and can perform a number of medical calculations without leaving the patient's bedside," Dr. Turi McNamee, an associate professor at the University of South Dakota's Sanford School of Medicine, told the Gazette.

"The downside... is that they're full of disclaimers with regards to their accuracy. In theory, if I give a patient the wrong dosage of a medication based on information obtained from an app, the maker of the app would seem to bear no liability whatsoever."

Thoughts?

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