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Health apps ready to collect your vital signs, wellness data

J. D. Sartain | July 16, 2014
Shifting healthcare policies, new treatment options, aging demographics and soaring inflation all drive an innovation in healthcare that's focused on improving consumers' health and lowering the cost to manage chronic conditions, says Julie Ask, Forrester vice president and principal analyst.

The Food and Drug Administration "will exercise enforcement discretion" when it comes to medical software and device regulations, he says. "The FDA has taken a tailored approach, which supports the benefits of technology without stifling innovation and creativity."

However, too much data could stifle physician productivity, writes Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, in The New York Times.

Flooding offices with "every glucose value of every patient, or each patient's daily weight, or every blood pressure measurement" information that new health apps encourage patients to collect and share will bury physicians in "information overload," Carroll says. What's more, individual data points usually don't matter, but when they do, "physicians might worry about being held liable for missing an abnormal reading."

Carroll suggests building systems that automatically monitor patient data for both good and bad outcomes and notify physicians or clinical staff if something goes wrong. But doctors won't invest their time or money in such systems until a critical number of patients demands it, Carroll says and it will create additional work for offices and hospitals to boot.

Until the medical industry sees these types of data monitoring systems, patients will be hard pressed to find healthcare organizations that use the large amounts of data that medical and fitness apps collect. If that's the case, the efforts of Samsung, WebMD, Apple and Google may fall flat.


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