Trouble Comes When Health And Wellness Apps Supplant Doctors

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Many patients are relying more and more on mobile health and wellness apps to help diagnose and deal with illnesses.

However, several doctors said that those apps aren't always reliable, and many give out inaccurate information.

Before you download these apps, there are a few things people need to know.

Every morning, 88-year-old Milton Meisner checks and records his vitals using his iPad.

His stats are instantly sent to his doctors through an online app.

"The numbers are accurate," Meisner said. "You can't fool around with the numbers."

Meisner's healthcare app, which was approved by physicians at USC's Keck Medical Center, works the way it should. However, his case may be the exception.

"We see applications that run the gamut... super responsible great applications and applications that don't do anything near what they claim to do," said Dr. Leslie Saxson.

There are more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available on your smartphone or tablet, but only a fraction of those have been validated by the FDA.

"The FDA has approved more than 160 regulated applications," Saxson said.

Saxson said many other apps on the market today haven't been tested enough for accuracy, while others have gone entirely unvetted.

A study from Johns Hopkins University found one popular blood pressure app gave measurements that were flat out wrong. It has since been pulled off the market.

"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," Saxson said.

Saxon joined an FDA panel that is working to develop global guidelines and regulations for healthcare apps.

Doctors said you should consult with your physician if you plan to use an app to find out if will benefit your healthcare.

Doctors said medical and healthcare apps can be useful to supplement your healthcare, but shouldn't be relied on as a primary means of diagnosing or treating any type of illness.

Segment sponsored by: Mercy Health System