Yes, There’s an App For That — Take 2

It seems like everyone is jumping onto the smartphone/tablet bandwagon these days with new apps to do just about everything for you and supposedly make life easier for us (i.e. find the lowest cost gas in your area, name that musical artist, count calories, and now the healthcare industry.) As I go about my daily life I see EVERYONE, and of all ages, using some type of smartphone, tablet, or laptop. I’m guilty of it as well….my smartphone is always within reach.

One of the fastest areas that we are seeing moving into the electronic age are the healthcare providers as more and more offices, practices, hospitals, clinics, etc are collecting and storing patient health in a digital format and then made available to you. Back in May we provided an article about a smartphone/mobile application (app) called ‘myfamily’ developed by Lyfechannel for The app is designed to help individuals manage their family’s health through customized prevention information for each family member — all in one tool. This isn’t the first ‘health app’ to be developed and for sure, it won’t be the last.

While having this information at your fingertips is a great way to stay informed and manage your health needs, there is also a potential risk of storing your personal health information on a smartphone or tablet. Once your information is stored on your smartphone or tablet, how secure is it? Healthcare providers and anyone with access to health information is mandated by HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to protect the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information that is in electronic form…that would be your information, the patient.

So, where is the privacy of your health information if it is stored on your smartphone or tablet? Is your smartphone required to follow HIPPA? Nope. It’s not unheard of to have your smartphone or tablet hacked and voila, your health information is now available to someone…anyone. Also, what if the company that developed the app goes out of business? Where does that electronic information go that was routed through the app? What happens to the link?

I’m not saying apps are bad. I love some of the apps on my smartphone while, others….I’m still trying to figure out what they do except clutter up my screen. Smartphones and tablets are not the best or smartest place for record keeping. If you rely solely on your smartphone or tablet (or computer for that matter) as a storage device for sensitive information just be aware that you just may be hacked or possibly lose all your data at some point in time. I’m just playing “Mom” today to make sure you are being smart about using your smartphone when it comes to your personal data.

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