The mHealth competence centre forms part of Mobile World Capital Barcelona’s Programme of International Competence Centers (PCCI). mHealth works with a three-fold objective: to identify mobile technology opportunities in the provision of health services, to transform current healthcare models and processes, and promote the interoperability of health services in the field of mobile technologies and connectivity, building foundations that make it possible to integrate mobile health solutions.
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The mobile health sector has been building a reputation as one of the most striking of recent times, and mobile apps and services are being developed to cover a great variety of problems. There’s apps which help you to overcome depression, ones orientated towards the older generation, or ones which simple monitor different measurements which go beyond those related to physical activity. The catalogue, as can be observed on Mobile Health Global, is notable and won’t stop growing.
Companies and developers have seen a promising niche in the market in this section in terms of profit generation, too, which has caused alarm bells to start to ring. Careful, because not everything that shines is made of gold. It’s just this that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims to control in the United States. This organisation has already been charged with checking out how these tools work and what benefits they offer.
At the moment analysis is slow: just 1% of the apps available on the market today have been evaluated, and this task becomes more complicated when we bear in mind that, according to Aquity Group, there’s already more than 10,000 apps related to health in iOS’ App Store, and other sources estimate more than 40,000 in total.
As such, the FDA has a difficult role to play, but it has already given notice that it will “only regulate apps which act as medical devices and which offer diagnostic or clinical decisions”. These barriers seem to frighten developers, who think that this organism should establish clear action guidelines (it’s hoped that these will be published in October) to avoid creating tools which are condemned to oblivion due before even appearing on the market to a failure to follow norms.
This control of apps related to the field of health won’t be able to cover all the spectrum of available solutions, and the FDA have already declared that they won’t evaluate apps like pedometers or tools which simply offer reminders to, for example, ask to renew your prescriptions.
They don’t include those which quantify physical measurement, either: not even those which aren’t limited to daily action and which are associated with monitoring of other aspects such as cardiac rhythm. Christy Foreman, responsible for the area in the FDA, explains that the supervision “will only affect a small group of mobile medical apps that present a potential risk for patients if they don’t function as claimed”.
The FDA’s policy is coherent, and, obviously, it will be users who end up favouring the use of one app over another based on successful operation and user reviews. This trend is already a reality in the app shops such as the App Store or Google Play, and will be even more marked for some medical apps which, based on the fact that they don’t put the same user health they’re trying to protect in danger, will not be evaluated by the FDA. All this last group of tools will be valued by public opinion, just like the rest of the catalogue of app for mobile devices.