Posted on June 24, 2014 by Anne Snowdon
There are a number of legitimate concerns that have been raised around the rapid explosion of health apps. A key barrier to the widespread adoption of health apps continues to be worries around privacy, security, and liability issues related to accessing, storage and ownership of health data. Health information is considered highly sensitive and private, and there are valid questions regarding liability should inappropriate access to information take place, or if health information is inadvertently released due to technical issues. There is also ambiguity around the regulation of health apps themselves, particularly when they offer medical information or health-based services.
Additionally, health systems traditionally rely heavily on empirical evidence before the adoption of new technologies are even considered. Given the short period of time health apps have been in existence, it is difficult to get evidence on the impact of an app and it is challenging to measure the impact of apps on health outcomes when the technology being used is constantly evolving.
While the challenges surrounding health apps and the use of mobile technologies as healthcare enablers must be addressed, it is clear that the advent of these tools in the health sector have the opportunity to revolutionize healthcare globally. Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in this area. To do so, health systems need to “get connected” and find ways to meaningfully engage consumers through the use of apps. Health systems need to engage consumers where they are (digitally), rather than continuing to expect consumers to “come to the health system”. Digital tools put into the hands of care providers, with all of the security and privacy features used in other sectors (i.e. banking), connecting the care and services (re-designed to achieve connectivity to people) present an enormous opportunity to create personalized programs of health and wellness. This must include the integration and sharing of health data held by health providers with health data being collected by consumers on their own. As health teams take advantage of technologies to assist in designing strategies for connecting to their patients in a more personalized manner, the practice structures and facilities will adapt and shift towards a more “connected” healthcare system that is meaningful and responsive to the personalized needs of the population they serve.
Are you using mobile apps with your care provider or health team? How has it changed the way you interact with them?
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Dr. Anne Snowdon has dedicated much of her career to producing research and advancing innovation that will improve the health and well being of Canadians. As Academic Chair of the International Centre for Health Innovation at Western University's Ivey Business School, Dr. Snowdon leads the Centre's work to drive health system sustainability and productivity. She is a professor at Western University's Ivey Business School and Faculty of Health Sciences, and is cross-appointed to the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Faculty of Engineering.
Dr. Snowdon has published more than 70 research articles and received over $7 million in research grants. She holds a PhD in Nursing from the University of Michigan. She is a Fulbright Scholar and was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship for her doctoral research.