May 23, 2013
What Patients Desire From Mobile Apps
This is a great blog on mobile apps. Please read it at your leisure. There are some additional cautions I would add to what the author says. If you think I am on my own crusade to warn people about mobile apps, you would be right.
#1. Do you know who owns the mobile app? Unless you have carefully researched the app, read the user agreement, and know that you have certain rights only to the app, you may not know who now owns the app. Many of the more popular medical apps are purchased by medical insurance companies so that they may access the data. Also many companies cooperate to make the data available to other companies.
#2. Do you know if the app works with other apps? Why own an app if you have to manually enter everything from another app. This is one time that I can say that I turned down an app from a pharmaceutical company because I would need to enter my blood glucose readings manually and still not be able to upload the information to my computer or to my doctor. I already am able to upload my meter to my computer and print our the data, graphs, and trend analysis for the doctor, but even this is not necessary as the office can do this as well. This app was promoted by the company as being important and a time saver for me. Not. I told the representative that he was blowing smoke and that his company's app was useless for me.
#3. Will the app integrate with others apps and do it seamlessly? With the proprietary apps of today, this is very unlikely and most are developed for a single use only. Until we, as patients, demand that apps work with other apps, it is highly doubtful you will find any app working with other apps.
#4. Will the data be stored only on your mobile device or will it be available to remote apps? This is a question that needs answering. You do not want your medical insurance company to be able to access the information without you knowing it. Who else might have access to the information? This is an important consideration.
#5. Is this an app that your doctor will use for the data or will he/she just toss the data? This is a tough question to answer and even your doctor may not know.
#6. Is there a cheaper method of collecting the data? Sometimes the doctor will suggest just using a pad to write the data on and especially if it is for a short period of time. At times like this, an app may be an unnecessary expense.
#7. How often is the app upgraded or updated? This is a question to be answered. Many apps are frequently updated as the manufacturer seeks to gain market share. With the time taken to become familiar with some apps, do you want to continue to relearn parts of the app after an update. Or if you have a area that you like to have the app open to and this is changed in an update, will you appreciate this.
#8. Will the app bring advertising to you that you don't want? Some apps will flood the purchaser with advertising. If this is something you don't want, avoid the app.
#9. Will the app help reach a medical goal? This could be the most important question. If it will be a help, make sure that #1, #4, #5, and #6 above do not negate the need.
These are a few of the traps in the use of mobile apps and there are many more. I hope these will help you in not getting into the wrong app and encourage you to do your homework before getting caught in their traps.