Some Medical Apps May Not Be So Good for Your Health
Life + Money

Some Medical Apps May Not Be So Good for Your Health


Want to get healthy? There are 165,000 apps for that.

Consumers seem pretty unimpressed with the category, however, with just 36 apps accounting for nearly half of the health and wellness apps downloaded, according to a new report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Information that looked at apps for both managing health and maintaining fitness.

One key to the success of the most popular apps may be doctor endorsement. A growing number of physicians are showing interest in health and wellness apps and mobile health management. More than a third of doctors say they have recommended mobile health apps to patients.

Related: The App That Brings a Doctor to Your Door

The likelihood that consumers will stick with an app is 10 percent higher than average for health apps when it is recommended by their doctor, and 30 percent higher for fitness apps.

One of the barriers to greater adoption of health management is a lack of scientific evidence on their effectiveness, but that’s about to change. There are 300 app clinical trials underway, with more than half targeting the senior population.

In the meantime, users should be wary: Several app makers have been accused of making health-related promises that don’t stand up to scrutiny. On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with Carrot Neurotechnology, the maker of an app that claims it can improve vision, for allegedly overstating its claims.

In February, the agency said it had reached a settlement regarding unsupported claims from makers of apps that promised they could detect melanoma.