In recent years, health apps have been all the rage because they help people keep track of their fitness activities, what they eat, and generally helps them live healthy lifestyles. However, a recent report shows that the health apps don’t necessarily perform as advertised.
While health apps don’t provide diagnosis for illnesses, they give users impressions about their health, and until recently, the Food and Drug Administration has let them run wild without vetting them to make sure they work as advertised.
The days of health apps being unregulated seem to be over because last week, the New York Attorney General’s office settled cases with three mobile health apps that were apparently misleading consumers while engaging in questionable practices with the privacy of their consumers’ information.
The three apps the New York AG’s office settled with are Adidas subsidiary Runtastic, Matis-made My Baby’s Beat, and MIT labs Cardiio. All three apps claim to monitor a human’s heart rate simply using the camera on a smartphone or microphone.
While the fines paid by developers seems paltry compared to the money they have made through their apps, the case set a legal precedent for how states will proceed with fraudulent app advertisements to make up for the oversite at the federal level.
The case should also serve as a deterrent to companies that are trying to cash in on the lax regulation in the mobile health industry.
Although most people won’t entrust their smartphones with monitoring their vital signs, some do, and the false advertising by the mobile health industry can have serious consequences.
The fact that these apps can claim to do things that they don’t have to prove that they work, had led to an explosion in the niche, with a lot of companies trying to cash in while they can.
Right now, there are over 150,000 health apps that claim to track everything from your heart rate to the amount of calories you burn each day. Despite the sudden rise in the number of health and fitness apps available, there isn’t a piece of legislation that covers the industry.
With the popularity of smartphones at an all-time high, these developers will continue to make health apps that claim to help people live healthy lifestyles, which a lot of them don’t. The government will need to step in and regulate the industry and bring some clarity to the situation.