Mobile medical apps risky

January 21, 2014
Mobile medical apps risky
More than a third of physicians and almost three-quarters of nurses use medical apps on smartphones daily for work purposes according to the World Health Organisation.

( —Possible risks associated with medical staff using mobile devices and software applications (apps) for professional purposes have been raised in a leading study at Monash University.

Published in the prestigious European Journal of ePractice, Monash University researchers and senior lecturers in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Jennifer Lindley and Dr Juanita Fernando, raised concerns around the use of smartphones, tablets and software apps in the health care sector.

"While mobile devices provide many benefits to medical, nursing and allied health practitioners and their patients, mobile digital technologies in health care (mHealth) also has identifiable disadvantages and risks," Ms Lindley said.

The lack of governance and regulatory guidelines relating to the use of mobile devices in medical workplaces was one of the main concerns highlighted in the study.

Some of the benefits of mHealth include more convenient access to patient records through mobility of devices, improved communication between health professionals as well as improved efficiency and decision making.

However, the potential risks included infrastructure constraints such as bandwidth availability, distracters including email alerts and advertising banners and privacy and .

"On mobile devices, icon badges, notifications, 'pop-up' alerts and constant availability of emails and internet access lead to distraction," Dr Fernando said.

"Privacy and security issues in health care contexts are of particular concern to all stakeholders because of the sensitive nature of the data stored on the many .

Ms Lindley said the development of apps was also ad hoc and frequently undertaken without input or critical appraisal by end-users.

"This can result in either variability of features or an app that does not perform the expected function," Ms Lindley said.

Dr Fernando said best practice use of mHealth needed to be incorporated into the education of , and curricula needs to provide the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes for future professional practice.

"In the case of an adverse event, who precisely is responsible - the app developer, the individual clinician user, the provider organisation or the government regulators?" Dr Fernando said.

More than a third of physicians and almost three-quarters of nurses use medical apps on smartphones daily for work purposes according to the World Health Organisation.

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not rated yet Mar 18, 2014
Anticipating the angst of October 1st, we've developed and recently released an app that may help alleviate the anxiety related to the ICD-10 implementation. Especially for the small practices that don't have the support or budgets of a hospital HIM department.

You can check it out at

and we'll appreciate your feedback

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