Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
There are more than 200 million (yes 200 million!) healthcare applications available to consumers and healthcare professionals right now, and that number is expected to increase threefold by 2010 according to recent research. The same research found that 70% of people worldwide are interested in having access to at least one mobile health app and are willing to pay to acquire it.
It is great to see such a progressive attitude towards patients taking responsibility for their own health. However, the security risk posed by inputting into or storing information on a mobile phone came into question this week when Google admitted that up to 260,000 smartphones had been hacked after phone owners unknowingly downloaded virus-infected apps from its Android store. The apps in question had malware DroidDream found in them which takes sensitive data including the phone’s unique ID number and passwords for personal items and sends it to a remote server. The apps have since been withdrawn from the Android Market and were remotely removed from all affected phones.
One of the main apps affected teaches people how to play a guitar on their phone. This is hardly a carrier of top secret information, but it could provide a gateway for hackers to personal healthcare information stored on your phone such as prescription details or health records. So how can you be sure that an app you are downloading is safe and that your healthcare information will not be shared or passed on? This article offers some advice, such as avoiding viewing sensitive information on public wi-fi or simply protecting your phone with a password. Do you use an app to monitor your health? Do you think the benefits brought by healthcare apps outweigh the security risks?