mHealth Trials Are Happening, Without the Clinic
But more to the point, I'm sure mHealth will provide, and probably already has, examples of disease diagnosis and treatment that do not involve doctors. There are laws against practicing medicine without a license, of course. Lack of enforcement of these laws is due to the fact that no one apparently is being harmed by these apps.
The question has to be, will the mHealth apps of the future be accused of enabling medical practice without a license. Will someone suffer serious bodily harm or die because of an app?
I wish I could say with confidence that that day will never come. However, apps are getting smarter every month. I wish I could say the same about people, but despite the knowledge-spreading effect of social networks, there are too many examples of bogus science being spread that way to expect social networks alone to help the average patient to keep up with what's medically proven and what is quackery.
In other words, it's probably not a question of if healthcare apps will be regulated, but when, and which ones, and how much.
Drugs and medical devices go through rigorous discovery, testing, and clinical trial phases before doctors can begin prescribing them. The healthcare IT system must police itself or the same kind of requirements will be imposed, at some point, on some or all of the technology rushing to market. I do not hold out faith that the free market alone will be sufficient to do all the necessary policing.
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