If you are using one of the thousands of health apps out there, including: calorie counters; blood-pressure testers; and even music-therapy apps, you are using an unregulated piece of software that could potentially harm you.
An article in The New England Journal of Medicine says there are over 97,000 mobile health (mHealth) apps available and that because these apps aren’t effectively regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, many of them could be useless, if not harmful.
Medical companies like Pfizer and Sanofi Aventis have already had to send out warnings that their apps were giving wonky readings and some mHealth apps like Pocket Doctor promise to give medical diagnosis while simultaneously claiming to be just for entertainment purposes.
It’s not that mHealth apps are all useless, the article authors say, it’s just that most people aren’t savvy enough to know that many of them are questionable at best and shouldn’t be trusted to be accurate.
Currently, the FDA doesn’t get overly involved in the mHealth industry, except when there could be a clear danger to people when a health app is misused.
Unless an app is associated with a medical institution you know and trust, or unless you can find specific information backing up its claims and methods, it’s best to cast a wary eye at anything health-related that can be downloaded to your phone.