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Study: More regulation needed for smartphone health apps

None of the apps studied employed the use of a blood pressure cuff or had any documentation of validation against a gold standard.

Your smartphone, may not be so smart after all – at least when it is functioning as a medical device.

A team of researchers studying smartphone-based apps intended for hypertension management, concluded “there is an urgent need for greater regulation and oversight in medical app development."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, analyzed 107 apps available from Google Play and iTunes by searching “hypertension” and “high blood pressure."

Of them, 72% had tracking function, 22% had tools to enhance medication adherence and 37% contained general information on hypertension management.

While the data showed that a majority of apps for hypertension management are designed primarily for health management functions, 14% of Google Android apps could transform the smartphone into a medical device to measure blood pressure.

However, none of these apps employed the use of a blood pressure cuff or had any documentation of validation against a gold standard. Only 3% of the apps were developed by healthcare agencies such as universities or professional organizations.

According to Cardiology Today, the study concluded, "high-quality, adequately powered randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of mobile-health interventions on clinical outcomes in hypertension."

 

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