Enthusiasm for iPhone and iPad apps among medical professionals is growing. As Martha White
explains at the Big Money, these apps promise to make many functions cheap, intuitive, and easy, ranging from
streamlining mountains of paperwork to simplifying the process of
reading x-rays. iPhone medical apps are seen as a boon. But as they grow
in popularity, how much should the government step in to keep
consumers from harm's way?
This is the question Jessica
raises in Scientific American in an article exploring the introduction of medical
smartphone apps into everyday practice. Citing a report from Manhattan
, Wapner writes that 1,500 smart
phone applications for health care professionals
available for downloading, and that 81 percent of physicians will have a
smart phone by 2012. Her main concern is the regulatory
gray area these medical programs create create. Medical applications are technically medical
, notes Wapner, and therefore subject to federal regulation.
Yet "as apps enter the realm of routine medical care, the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) must consider whether and how to ensure
patient safety around the hodgepodge medical apps market," Wapner
explains. "The fact that some specialized medical apps are openly
available to anyone with a smart phone may raise additional concerns.
But excessive regulation of medical apps could also squelch what might
be the part of the next great wave of innovations in health care."
Where should we draw the line between innovation and safety? How closely should the government examine medical iPhone and iPad apps?
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