Friday, August 19

Mobile Apps for Health

Jennifer Flynn (same family) who is a health field professional has a bog called Health & Productivity Thinker where she posted yesterday on Mobile Apps for Health. She asks "what type of app would you want to use for your health?"

As a security professional, I'm very interested in the answer. As an industry, we spend a lot of time focused on information privacy and health information is among the most talked about types.

Health organizations spend a fortune on personal health information protection (perhaps primarily in an effort to comply with HIPAA). Johns Hopkins and similar organizations have reported spending $4-5 Million in their early HIPAA compliance efforts. Earlier this year, the HHS fined one provider in MD $4.3M for a privacy violation. CVS paid over $2M in 2009 and Rite Aid $1M in 2010. Walgreens is currently being investigated. Early on, Gartner estimated that the industry would spend near $4B per year on HIPAA and the HHS estimated it would cost the industry $18B in the first decade. (I couldn't find current/actual numbers)

So, protection of consumer health information is a big deal. A lot of time, money, and energy is expended in the process. But do people really care? If someone gave you an app for your phone that enabled you to carry around your complete medical history for easy distribution to doctors and health providers -- and it meant you'd never have to fill out another form in a doctor's office waiting room -- would you use it? My guess is that most people would. If it makes life easier, it will get used regardless of the privacy risk.

We all know that our phones and computers are susceptible to privacy breaches, eavesdropping, and other data leakage, but would that stop you from using an app that improved your health? Made life easier? I'd love to know, so if 2000 of you would please go answer Jennifer's question, I'd appreciate the info.