One of the reasons why consumers, healthcare providers, investors, the government and others have been slow to adopt mobile health applications and software (apps), are concerns about the privacy and security of data collected through the apps. For instance, Appthority, a service provider that offers an app risk management solution, recently reported that the iPharmacy Drug Guide and Pill ID app “is playing fast and loose with your personal info.” www.appthority.com/news/mobile-threat-monday-android-app-leaks-your-medical-info-online. iPharmacy is a free app that allows consumers to maintain a personal health record on their prescription drugs, look up information on a drug, provide reminders, and maintain pharmacy discount cards. Continue reading mHealth App Use: Is Data Truly Protected?
Mobile health (“mHealth”) medical app developers, including health information technology (“HIT”) and telemedicine app developers, tend to focus on FDA requirements. Indeed since many of these apps may be categorized as medical devices, and the FDA approval process is lengthy, developers are wise to focus on whether an app is regulated by the FDA. But a successful developer should also build privacy protections (e.g., privacy policies) and security protections (e.g., disaster recovery) into its product from the earliest stages. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) calls this “Privacy By Design.” “Security By Design” is the corollary. Continue reading Attention mHealth, HIT and Telemedicine App Developers: Privacy and Security By Design Is Critical
Mobile health (“mHealth”, “telehealth” or any other terms for health care delivered wirelessly) is revolutionizing the health care industry. That message resounded at last week’s mHealth Summit, which gathered roughly 4,000 investors and angel-funders, telecom and software companies, and entrepreneurs and developers to share ideas and display new mHealth products. Hot mHealth areas include data analytics, texting and medical records. Home health and medical homes also stand to benefit with the introduction of products designed to submit protected health information (“PHI”) and other data between patient and provider. Continue reading mHealth/Telehealth Investors and Entrepreneurs: The Generational Divide
Last month, top health care investors and entrepreneurs came together with hospital, payor and government leaders at a conference sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Healthcare Management Alumni Association to discuss the restructuring of the health care system. Jonathan Blum, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center of Medicare participated on a panel about about macro health care system changes and one of the key take aways was not surprisingly, that change in the health care system is all about the data. Continue reading Medicare and Health Care Reform: Why Isn’t Real Time Data a Priority?
Health care payors (plans, insurers) are emerging quickly as one of the dominant players in the mobile health (mHealth) marketplace. Apps to exchange information with patients regarding appointment reminders, to coordinated care among various providers for diabetes and other conditions, and to provide patients with personal health records (PHRs) are becoming all the rage. Payors command a unique place in the healthcare industry; not only do they receive and distribute the healthcare dollars but they maintain deep files of information on the consumers whose care they pay for. With their reserves of funds, payors are also uniquely positioned to invest in the use of mobile health in the delivery of health care. They can develop and distribute apps from basic-to-sophisticated, from those that merely provide good diet tips to beneficiaries, to those that collect and transmit critical health data to physicians and other providers. They can also incentivize beneficiaries to adopt mHealth solutions by, for instance, offering to reduce premiums in exchange for compliant behavior. Further, the employers who pay for health coverage may incentivize, or penalize, employees that do not utilize mHealth tools offered by payors.
The relationship between privacy and mobile applications is coming into focus. On February 27, 2012, the California Attorney General entered into a Joint Statement of Principles with the six largest mobile application companies – Apple, Google, H-P, Microsoft, Amazon and RIM – regarding consumer privacy and transparency issues when data is collected through an app. http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n2647_agreement.pdf. The Five Principles set parameters for good practice. Although not legally binding, the AG promises to review compliance in the fall, and may use California laws on privacy, false advertising, unfair business practices and others as enforcement tools. Since California often leads the way in privacy enforcement it is likely that other states will follow suit.
We live in the data age where every day a new technology is announced in business- and consumer-oriented ecommerce and mobile health (mhealth). In response, in recent years, federal and state legislators have enacted strict data privacy and security laws, such as HIPAA, COPPA, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, to protect data whether in electronic (IT) or physical form. This data is known as protected health information under HIPAA and personally identifiable information under other statutes. New federal and state laws also mandate comprehensive data breach responses, including notifications to individuals whose PHI or PII was breached and some agencies and state attorneys general. The shared premise behind these laws is that the public expects the highest standard of data protection from businesses and government. (Whether or not this is true – after all we regularly give our credit card numbers to anonymous persons over the phone – is a subject for another day…)
‘Mobile health’ (mHealth), which is defined loosely as health care delivered wirelessly, is set to transform health care. A perfect example is the Ford Motor Company’s ‘Car That Cares,’ which it announced at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The car’s in-vehicle health monitoring system was developed through a collaboration with Microsoft, BlueMetal Architects, and Healthrageous and is designed to support passengers’ personal health and disease management programs. The vehicle’s dashboard is equipped to collect real time biometric and other data, along with voice inputs, to help the passenger comply with his or her health and wellness program through digital coaching (“How much did you eat for breakfast? Did you take your pills?”). The system can also wirelessly connect to other health-related smartphone apps and portable medical devices such as a car seat that measures blood pressure, to alert the passenger to health changes. These apps and devices can then connect to the passenger’s health care provider and electronic health record. The Car That Cares is still in the research phase, giving the public and the regulators time to catch up with this new concept.