These days, everyone has a smartphone and an app for just about anything. You probably aren’t surprised to find that there are apps that have changed healthcare technology. Though these apps represent amazing technological advances, there are still some risks.
Consider the Risk of Apps for Medically Implanted Devices
Doctors can use mobile medical apps to control the settings of implanted medical devices. Some apps pose a greater risk to the patient’s health if the apps quit working or work improperly. The FDA’s primary focus is on those apps that could cause the greatest harm. The FDA released this guide on September 25, 2013 to help give medical practitioners and their patients some insights into mobile medical apps. If an app can do more harm than good if working improperly, it’s best to avoid it.
Make Patient Privacy a Top Priority
With the use of mobile apps, one practitioner can transfer information such as medical records to another with ease. Such an exchange is incredibly useful, especially when an ambulance rushing a patient to the hospital needs that information and every second counts. The downside is not knowing just how secure your mobile connection really is. Read the FDA’s take on cyber security for tips on how to ensure patient confidentiality and security.
Ensure Test Results Are Reliable
A misread lab result due to the quality and size of images and documents on smartphones and tablets can lead to complications for the patient. Not only can this have a negative impact on the patient physically, but misread results can lead to further testing, incurring unnecessary costs for the patient and his or her health insurance company. To avoid this issue, only rely on results that are clearly legible on the screen that you are viewing, or wait for the fax to come in.
Research Apps Used to Monitor Hospital Patients
Doctors and nurses can use mobile medical apps to check a patient’s heart rate, blood oxygen level, pulse, and blood pressure. It is imperative that apps used to monitor these stats work properly, especially in cases where even a slight change can indicate a serious problem. Again, the FDA’s guide focuses on those apps that could present a greater risk than the intended benefit.
Protect Apps Used to Administer Drugs
Apps that control a patient’s dosage of medications such as antibiotics or pain killers should have an extra level of security. Speak with your hospital’s network administrator to ensure that the highest level of precautions is taken to prevent tampering with any devices on the network. A mobile app that controls a device administering blood thinners can pose a lethal threat to a patient if tampered with. If possible, look for an app that requires a password and two-step verification to alter a patient’s dosage.
Every medical advance in history has come with its own benefits and risks. Educate yourself on the use of mobile apps just as you would vaccines or surgical procedures to ensure the safety of your patients. New apps are developed every day. Keep abreast of current issues with mobile apps, and refer to the FDA’s guides when in doubt.