Along with the growing power of smartphones and other handheld connected devices, more and more applications are launching to capture, process, and visualize data from the human body. About a third of the population in Germany has already tried such health apps, according to the results published on Friday in a representative online survey of the Office for Technology Assessment of the Bundestag (TAB).
The frequency of use varies according to the study but quite clear, ranging from daily at 12 percent to less than once a month at six percent. One in four people use health apps at least once a week. 60 per cent of Germans consider relevant services to be useful for tracking physical activity, for example in sports, 59 per cent in order to record physiological parameters such as heart rate, weight or blood sugar, or to remind them to take medicines.
Missing basic data and personality rights
By contrast, only about one-third of respondents rated apps that can be used to self-identify illnesses and disease symptoms, such as skin cancer or respiratory distress, as beneficial. "Obviously, medical-medical competence is given clear priority in diagnostics," concludes TAB. Two out of three believe that relevant applications motivate a healthier lifestyle. 61 percent agree that individuals' ability to "make decisions in their daily lives that have a positive impact on their health" could also be increased.
The participants also express criticism. 60 percent miss baseline data, so users might underestimate how well-founded and trusted an app is. 57 percent see the users' personal rights violated by, for example, passing on the recorded information to third parties. More than one in two people fear that health insurance plans of health insurances penalize certain groups of people in need of care. 60 percent see it as putting pressure on insured persons to collect health-related measurements.
Data security – demand for greater control
On the other hand, 51 or 50 percent would share the data with their family or health insurance. 48 percent consider it socially valuable if patient diaries or pediatrician records are sent to the doctor by pediatricians. However, only seven percent of respondents would like to transmit measured values to the employer. 51 percent deny the statement that health apps promote a "performance-oriented understanding of health", "in which above all the employees are obliged to bring about change".
85 percent of Germans see the providers, regulators or legislators on the train: they want "binding standards for quality, data protection and data security". 83 percent argue that "compliance with data protection requirements by app manufacturers and App Store operators" should be more controlled. 82 percent are pushing for self-commitments by the providers. 74 percent demand that relevant services "have to prove their effectiveness in scientific studies".
Lack of benefits and damage potential
For the study, the TAB surveyed in April 1059 people from the German resident population aged 16 to 74 years via the address pool of an online panel. The researchers conclude that despite the relatively high prevalence of self-assessment applications, "reliable evidence of a preventive or health-promoting effect" did not exist. It should be remembered that "in addition to the lack of benefits, the apps can basically also have a potential for damage". The "development of quality-related standards including appropriate quality assurance processes" by political institutions and stakeholders therefore seems imperative. Meanwhile, the federal government wants to make health apps available for free by prescription.
. (TagsToTranslate) Privacy (t) Data Security (t) Health Apps (t) health insurance (t) use (t) access