Medical information at your fingertips may come soon come with a price. How so? We have explored in the past how technology is changing the landscape of the medical industry, with new digital-based applications and devices introduced into the marketplace. There’s no question that technology in the healthcare industry will be greatly beneficial to both healthcare professionals and patients, as more information will be accessible and health monitoring becomes more commonplace. However, with heightened technology comes security concerns—how will this medical software and personal medical information be kept private?
Between the government and the FDA, it is very possible that the health and technology sector will be facing strict regulations in the future. According to this Politico article, “mobile apps get a lot of the buzz, but they are just one part of a larger debate on how to keep tabs on health IT in general—a vast new sphere of U.S. health care that includes the electronic health records doctors and hospitals increasingly use, partly because of government incentive payments and penalties.”
As medical device contract manufacturers, we have been monitoring how the FDA is handling the newest medical software and technology, as we are sure there will eventually be regulations that will control information on medical mobile devices. The last thing that is wanted is personal medical information either being shared or hacked in some way. Implantable medical devices and implants now utilize signatures and chips that share information with healthcare professionals—there will come a time where there are guidelines for these as well. Even Apple’s newest Healthkit app, which is produced to easily share health and fitness information, is susceptible to a security threat, due to its open networks, as seen in this article.
Recently, the FDA released its first foray into regulating mobile health devices, guidance defined as “Mobile Medical Applications.” While this guideline still only applies to a certain type of device, it certainly provides an idea of what is to come. As sharing of medical information becomes easy and more commonplace through the newest technology, it is also imperative for device manufacturers to protect the integrity of that information. We are certainly excited at the prospect of improving the medical and medical device industries through the use of new technology and software—we all just have to determine how to best protect the users and patients as well.