Medical Apps and Regulatory Challenges

The growth of the internet has provided us with unparalleled access to information. Technology has enabled us to distribute this information on a scale that has never previously been possible and for a fraction of the cost.

However, as the barriers come down, we’re still learning how society reacts when individuals act upon such new and increasingly accessible sources of information. Healthcare apps are an obvious example. The growth of fitness tracking obviously has legal implications but some medical professionals argue that they also run the risk of being detrimental to your health in certain situations as well.

It seems to me that innovation will always present challenges. The question is whether finding a route around existing hurdles (such as regulations put in place to protect the public) provides a result for the world that is genuinely net positive or negative – or whether we still need protection as such innovations are trialled. The risks of making the wrong choices are clearly much greater when dealing with health matters than with other sectors but the principle, in my mind at least, remains the same. If forced to choose a ‘side’, technology itself must always be viewed as neutral and the overall effects of open innovation viewed as being more beneficial than harmful.

That’s a tougher argument to make if an app on your phone incorrectly informs you that your blood pressure is fine and you delay potentially life-saving medical check-ups as a result. But there doesn’t appear to be another route forwards if you truly want to evolve.