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Mixed Reviews, Mixed Quality

by Christina Farr

Fast Company

Article excerpt

Is It Fair To Call Digital Health Apps Today's "Snake Oil"?

In a speech delivered at the AMA’s recent annual meeting, CEO James Madara described the digital health industry as peddling apps and devices that “impede care, confuse patients, and waste our time.” Without naming names, he referenced ineffective electronic medical records, direct-to-consumer digital health products, and apps of “mixed quality.”

Our take

Not All Health Apps Are Created Equal

The growing number, and wide range, of medical devices and apps is creating an environment that is murky when it comes to discussions about the quality of these varied offerings. Some doctors are deriding the potential benefit of health apps; do they have a point?

In some cases, yes. But, providers and health organizations must resist the tendency to cast a wide net when considering the efficacy of digital health apps. Big media stories that surround companies like Theranos don’t help to boost confidence in health solutions provided through non-traditional healthcare organizations, but not all are created equal. It’s important to apply the same rigor when evaluating these options—and communicating with patients about them—as is applied when adopting any type of medical device.