As more technology firms produce wearables, apps and connected medical devices that claim to help people live better or treat diseases, we need to draw a line between digital wellness and digital medicine. The entire health care industry needs to implement rigorous standards that can help differentiate between truly therapeutic products and the digital equivalent of snake oil.
Today, consumers and doctors are bombarded with claims. Apple says the Apple Watch can detect if the person wearing it is going into atrial fibrillation. Researchers believe they have developed an app that can tell if you are depressed simply by monitoring how you type and interact with the screen. Companies are pushing home versions of medical devices for detecting respiratory diseases in children, spotting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and testing urine that all claim to deliver clinical data.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has clamped down on a few offending apps, such as several that purport to diagnose concussions. But there are plenty of devices that straddle the line between digital wellness and actual digital medicine.
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