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Health Apps: benefits and risks

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Anyone who doesn’t have applications on their phones these days would be considered somewhat strange: Whatsapp, Facebook, apps for banks etc. More specifically, an estimated 3% of the population currently have apps related to health in order to track their level of activity and their well-being.

In the future, it is likely that this tendency will continue as a trusted app can help people to manage their health without relying on health centres, doctors, nurses or pharmacies for routine matters. In fact, some doctors are already prescribing the use of apps to complement medication. Regarding health, the future has arrived and is here to stay.

It is important, however, to be careful when selecting which app to use for various reasons. According to official information, of the 3,013 apps in Europe related to health, none of them have been guaranteed by any medical centres or universities. This means that they have not been checked and may cause problems when used as they are mainly designed by computer scientists and not medical experts. To give an example, due to their experience, a medical expert might include certain variables that a computer scientist would not. A computer scientist would rely on information they find in a selection of books. In fact, an estimated 45.8% of apps currently available have been developed purely to trick people into giving their personal information (the new gold of the 21st century, hence the importance of only giving your personal information to trustworthy sites), 16.9% are trustworthy but they are only for professionals and 37.3% are trustworthy but merely informative, without the option of putting in a lot of personal information.

For some real life examples, take a look at the links below to three recent articles about the possible risks of using health related apps: the case of the “NaturalCycles” app that caused 51 unwanted pregnancies in Sweden; the sports app “Strava” that unveiled the location of American secret bases; and that 80% of apps related to health are at risk of divulging personal health information.

We have started to inform clients about reliable apps approved by official bodies or laboratories in Spain so that technology can act as an ally to your health rather than the enemy of your privacy. We would like to remind you that our app, tufarmaciacerca, complies with all data protection laws and also provides you with interesting articles about health.

Text: Victoria González de Buitrago

English translate: Nicola Mc Grath.

Related links:
http://www.abc.es/sociedad/abci-37-mujeres-suecia-denuncian-quedaron-embarazadas-sin-desearlo-aplicacion-anticonceptiva-201801241456_noticia.html
https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3246702/0/strava-app-ubicacion-bases-ejercito-eeuu/
• https://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/app-salud-ponen-riesgo-millones-datos-personales.html

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“VICTORIA GONZALEZ DE BUITRAGO MARTINEZ ha sido beneficiario del Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional cuyo objetivo es mejorar el uso y la calidad de las tecnologías de la información y de las comunicaciones y el acceso a las mismas y gracias al que ha desarrollado un proyecto de Presencia web a través de página propia y de Servicio de promoción online mediante sistema de pago (SEM), para la mejora de competitividad y productividad de la empresa. 08/01/2019. Para ello ha contado con el apoyo del programa TIC Cámaras de la Cámara de Comercio de Valencia.” - Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional - Una manera de hacer Europa.

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