Physicians split on use of mHealth apps

A poll of 1,500 physicians across the country finds that 37 percent have prescribed a mobile medical application to their patients, according to QuantiaMD, a social learning network for physicians.

An additional poll of 250 physicians found:

  • Forty-two percent won't prescribe apps because there is no regulatory oversight of them
  • Thirty-seven percent have no idea what apps are out there
  • Twenty-one percent never recommend apps to patients
  • Twenty-one percent won't prescribe apps because there's no longitudinal data on apps' effectiveness
  • Another 21 percent won't prescribe apps because it would generate an overwhelming amount of patient data

Mike Paskavitz of Quantia, Inc. compared the effectiveness of medical apps to prescription drugs, which have roughly seven years of data about their effectiveness and safety giving physicians assurance when prescribing them to patients. Medical apps have no history of this sort, he pointed out, which is important to keep in mind this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in Orlando, Fla.

"So as hundreds of medical app developers gather in Orlando for HIMSS, it's important to note that physicians are still split in opinion on whether they should 'prescribe' medical apps to their patients--the main reason being the lack of regulation, especially as the movement to enable self-care is advanced through tools such as medical apps," Paskavitz said in the announcement.

The regulation of mHealth apps has been contentious for a while now--as FierceMobileHealthcare reported last week, the PROTECT Act, a bill introduced in the Senate, removes Food and Drug Administration regulation from some high-risk clinical decision support (CDS) software, mobile medical apps and other medical device functionality.

FierceMobileHealthcare Editor Greg Slabodkin argued that the PROTECT Act was too dangerous in an editorial last week.

"Patient safety must always come first," Slabodkin wrote. "In the end, the so-called PROTECT Act would only serve to protect app developers in their zeal to make a quick buck free of government regulation."

Nonetheless, while regulation is debated in Washington, mobile medical apps continue to emerge daily. Just last week, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association announced a mobile and web-based app for healthcare professionals to use with their patients in determining risk for developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), a major cause of heart attack and ischemic stroke.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

Related Articles:
Senators throw down the mHealth gauntlet
ACC, AHA release heart disease and stroke risk app
Wireless adhesive patch challenges Holter heart rhythm monitor
Mobile cardiac telemetry proves cost-effective
AliveCor mobile heart monitor receives FDA clearance