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Who’s Got the Pulse on Healthcare Apps?

There are thousands of health-related apps for iPhones and Android smartphones that claim to do everything from checking your blood pressure to counting the steps you take each day. But until now, no one has been regulating these apps to make sure that they do what they claim they can.

In September 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally stepped up and laid out what their role is in the development of healthcare apps. To explain their role, the FDA differentiates between two kinds of apps they see being offered.

One kind of app includes general information, such as calorie counters, step counters, exercise monitors, diet aids and apps that provide general health information. The FDA says these apps are safe, and even if they’re used incorrectly, they do not harm anyone.

However, a second kind of emerging app that the FDA is calling a mobile medical app includes complex applications that do things usually reserved for a doctor’s office, such as looking inside a patient’s ear or monitoring a person’s heartbeat or lung function. Some of these apps use attachments to perform these duties and can cost upwards of $100. A recently approved $199 app by AliveCor uses finger electrodes to take an approximate EKG reading in about 30 seconds that can be emailed to your doctor for analysis.

FDA officials have already approved 75 of these mobile medical apps. They anticipate that their use is going to be adopted widely by 2015, and that 500 million smartphone users are going to be using some type of healthcare app by then.

Currently, more than 17,000 healthcare apps are available for downloading by Android and iPhone users.

Prim Law Firm PLLC represents clients in cases involving dangerous medical devices in West Virginia, and our clients owe no fees unless we are successful in recovering compensation on their behalf.

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