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    NPR: Apps Can Help You Take A Pill, But Privacy’s A Big Question

    NPR reports on medical privacy and smartphone apps:

    The American Medical Association just rolled out a shiny new iPhone app, My Medications, that you can use to keep track of your meds.

    Mobile medical apps are a hot market, but unlike “Angry Birds,” they’re not just harmless fun. Some come with real privacy risks.

    Sure, many medical apps are pretty benign. People use them to track how they’re doing with their diets or to help them stop smoking. But apps are also being used to monitor their blood sugar, chart blood pressure and screen for depression. You might be a little more concerned about strangers finding out that information. […]

    One big issue: Medical apps aren’t covered by a federal privacy law, known as HIPAA, that controls how doctors and health care providers store and share patients’ health information. […]

    Because apps aren’t covered by HIPAA, a company that makes them can pretty much do with a customer’s medical information what it pleases. As [Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.] tells Shots, “If their privacy policy says, ‘From time to time we will share your information with advertisers,’ they can do that.” […]

    So who’s making sure that medical apps comply with existing privacy rules and guidelines? This sounds like a job for the Food and Drug Administration. But in July, when the FDA posted the draft of its plans to regulate medical apps, the agency said it would limit its oversight to those apps that “could present a risk to patients if the apps don’t work as intended.” In other words, an app that’s a medical device, not a consumer convenience, gets the FDA’s scrutiny.

    So don’t expect the feds to have your back if the sensitive medical information you uploaded is suddenly for sale on eBay.

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