The internet has revolutionized the healthcare system. No longer do people need to wait in line to see a healthcare professional; instead, they can look up their symptoms and diagnose themselves quickly. It’s also possible for people to regularly monitor their health without having to visit a doctor, thanks to the wealth of smartphone apps that can be used by everyone easily. These apps can measure heartbeats, blood pressure, the amount of exercise someone undertakes, the hours of restful sleep they enjoy, and make it fun at the same time! It’s now possible to see a virtual doctor via an app from the comfort of your home. However, are these apps any kind of replacement for a real-life healthcare professional?
What Can a Virtual Doctor Offer?
Virtual doctors do have their limitations, and in no way should they be regularly used to take the place of a visit to a healthcare professional. There are, however, some instances when they work perfectly well. When you’re suffering from a standard infection, for example, and all you need is the trusty antibiotic. Using a virtual doctor will mean you free up the healthcare professional to deal will more urgent cases or serious illnesses. It cuts down waiting room lines and reduces the number of people going to the emergency room for minor ailments.
There are certain healthcare professionals that a mobile app will never be able to replace, however. Take a visit to the dentist, for example, or the healing hands of an expert at Heaven and Earth Massage. An app may be able to offer guidance, but it simply cannot offer hands-on therapies or medical procedures.
The Confidentiality of Your Medical Data
There is a lot of concern nowadays about the security of personal data when it’s placed online. Many professionals and individuals worry that medical data can sometimes be a little insecure. Health apps are a rapidly expanding industry, and there are currently more than 100,000 on the market. Recommendations are now being made to the developers of these health apps regarding the handling of medical information and the need for it to be confidential. There is a growing number of companies whose sole area of expertise is maintaining the integrity of patient data.
A Lack of Regulation
Something else that also casts a doubt over the usefulness of health apps is the fact that there is little regulation. While there may be a large number available, very few actually receive FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval. They are considered to be low risk and currently it is felt that no regulatory controls are necessary. As with many recent technological improvements, it can take a while for regulators to catch up and look at what is being offered to the public.
There’s no denying that health apps do have a place in the modern world. However, there are a few misgivings about them and understandably so. No doubt in time, regulations will catch up. Apps are not only used by individuals; they are also used for research. They don’t always provide the most accurate data, but what they do provide is very valuable for the future of medical research.