Health Apps: Unlimited Promise Or ‘Like Having A Really Bad Doctor’
by Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times
Her husband died of skin cancer in 2010. She worried that her three children could also be at risk, so she took them to a dermatologist twice a year.
When Hadduck photographed one of her daughter’s moles, the app offered a diagnosis within seconds. “It came back red, and I was freaked out,” said Hadduck, who lives in Pittsburgh.
She took her 9-year-old to a dermatologist, who reassured them the mole was benign. Hadduck, 47, deleted the app.
The app that Hadduck tried is one of more than 165,000 involving health and wellness currently available for download — a blending of technology and healthcare that has grown dramatically in the last few years. Experts see almost unlimited promise in the rise of mobile medical apps, but they also point out that regulation is sometimes lagging the pace of innovation, which could harm consumers.
The Kardia app allows people to turn their smartphones into electrocardiogram machines that can detect problems with heart rhythms.
“It’s clearly a net positive, but I think there are risks to it,” said Dr. Karandeep Singh, a professor at the University of Michigan who recently evaluated the quality and safety of hundreds of mobile health apps.
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