Apple asks app developers to verify sources of medical information

In an effort to ensure the information contained in medical apps available in its App Store are appropriately validated, Apple has asked a number of developers to release or update these apps rejected on the basis of incomplete metadata, according to an article in iMedicalApps. Specifically, the article reveals that Apple is requesting information from developers regarding the source of the medical information contained in their apps.

"This is an exciting development from Apple as it suggests they are concerned about the potential for misinformation contained in medical apps," the article's author writes. "By asking developers to verify the information contained in the app, Apple will encourage developers to cite the sources of the information contained--similar to how medical journals are written. Whether or not Apple has the ability to accurately assess the validity of the sources cited remains to be seen."

Apple's actions come at a time when some studies are questioning the veracity of scientific data in claims made by app developers. Earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of Cancer Education looked at smartphone apps as a source of cancer information. The study found a "lack of cancer-related applications with scientifically backed data."

Among the 77 apps in the study identified on the Apple iTunes store, only a little more than half of the apps provided scientifically validated data, while a mere 79 percent of the apps uploaded by healthcare agencies were found to be backed by scientific data. 

As part of stricter enforcement of developer policies for its App Store, Apple has been rejecting medical and health apps that provide information about prescription and over-the-counter medications. Apple's rejection of certain apps appear to "target drug reference guide apps that provide both on- and off-label dosage guidelines," according to a June 2013 article.

To learn more:
- read the article in iMedicalApps

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