Medical “do-it-yourself” apps need to play by the rules

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

With the rise of new do-it-yourself medical apps – that allow you to treat your own symptoms – I’m sure everyone’s eager to pass up on doctor visits and just do check-ups straight from home, right? However, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is worried people are going to use them incorrectly and hurt themselves, so the agency is setting up some safety rules for any do-it-yourself phone apps.

Not all of them are dangerous if used incorrectly, though. For example, I know a cool app from the company Netra-G, which prescribes glasses with a quick eye test on your phone. The worst than can possibly happen is getting a pair of eyewear that doesn’t work! That’s true, which is why the FDA isn’t going to focus on harmless apps like Netra-Gs.

“We have worked hard to strike the right balance, reviewing only the mobile apps that have the potential to harm consumers if they do not function properly,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Our mobile medical app policy provides app developers with the clarity needed to support the continued development of these important products.” The FDA has received around 100 applications for medical apps seeking approval and so far, only 40 have gotten approved.

Featured image courtesy of Code Name: Mama on Flickr. Video courtesy of TEDx.