NHS Health Apps Library closing amid questions about app security & quality: what can we learn?

Satish Misra, M.D. writes:

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) launched the Health Apps Library as part of their NHS Choices program in 2013. It was pitched as a pilot program, one that would guide patients and clinicians to safe, effective health apps. And now after a troubled two years, the NHS Health Apps Library is shutting down later this week.

The Health Apps Library has had a run of challenges and critiques. Earlier this year, a privacy advocacy group raised concerns about the screening of nearly half of the 200+ apps included. In particular, they highlighted concerns about the security standards of many apps.

That security concern was further validated in a recent study from the Imperial College London. In this study, researchers tested 79 apps using dummy data. They found that none of the apps encrypted data on the device (including PHI). Of the 35 apps that sent identifying information via the Internet, two thirds did not use any encryption. And four apps sent PHI without any encryption.

And that’s in addition to concerns about whether the apps are actually effective.

Read more on iMedicalApps.

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