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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Regulation of medical mobile apps

Monday, January 7th, 2013

What constitutes a medical app? Does anyone keep an eye out as to whether a medical app lives up to what it claims to do or ensure that it does not endanger users?  Should anyone?

Oversight of mobile apps, in general, varies by platform.  Historically, Apple’s app store is a much more regulated marketplace with each app being reviewed by Apple and required to meet certain standards before being allowed to enter the store.  Google takes a more laissez faire approach to their Android Play store, though in August of this past year they did add some guidelines for developers to follow.  But for both companies, their app development rules do not provide oversight over quality of content.   While for some categories of apps this may not matter much, for apps that bill themselves as “medical,” for use either by healthcare providers or consumers to make decisions related to health, lack of content oversight may be worth considering.

Over the last couple of months there has been quite a bit of discussion over whether or not medical apps should be regulated and who, if anyone, should do that regulation.  Often this debate splinters between whether or not apps developed for consumers versus those for professionals should be treated differently – the logic here being that consumers may need more protection as providers should be able to evaluate the quality of an app on their own.  Some might recall in 2011 when the FTC brought a settlement against two different developers of apps that claimed to be able to cure acne that were being sold in both Google and Apple’s app stores.

While the FTC was the organization responsible for bringing that particular settlement against those particular apps that were built around unsubstantiated claims, the FDA is mentioned most often as the body best suited to provide this type of oversight, as they already regulate medical devices.  Currently, the FDA does provide regulatory oversight to a subset of mobile medical apps – those that are in some way “an extension” of a medical device or effectively transform a mobile device into a medical device.  An example of an app that falls into this category that received FDA approval last month was an ECG monitor that works with an iPhone.

Last July NPR spoke with a representative from the FDA who indicated they did not plan on reviewing most medical or health related apps beyond those described above.  Some developers of apps are nervous that this stance could change or that the line between an app that acts enough like a medical device versus a regular old app could blur.  Recently, United States Representative Mike Honda introduced a bill in the House, The Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA).  Amongst other aspects of the bill, it proposes to establish an Office of Wireless Health within the FDA that would be responsible for providing recommendations on “how to develop and maintain consistent, reasonable and predictable regulatory framework on wireless health issues.”  In 2013 we will continue to see development in this area of regulation as this bill makes its way through Congress.

Cancelled – Rendezvous webcast: Demystifying Data

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

We apologize, but the webcast is cancelled today due to illness.

This month’s RML Rendezvous will provide an introduction to all things data.  There are a lot of jargon and buzzwords around data, data management, data curation and e-science.  We’ll discuss what all of these terms mean to librarians and health sciences researchers.  We’ll also take a look at a few example data sets to see how data sets can be combined, why researchers might need a librarian’s help with their data and why this is important for forwarding scientific discovery.

Come join us on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 1pm Pacific time (Noon Alaska, 2pm Mountain) during our free monthly webcast at to learn more about the terms used when discussing data and a look at some open health data sets, presented by Mahria Lebow, Technology Outreach Coordinator here at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region (NN/LM PNR).


PubReader, New From NCBI

Monday, December 10th, 2012

In order to keep pace with the continuing advances in web technology, PubMed Central (PMC) has launched PubReader, an alternative web presentation that offers another, more reader-friendly view of the articles in the PMC archive. Designed particularly for enhancing the readability of PMC journal articles on tablet and other small screen devices, PubReader can also be used on desktops and laptops and from multiple web browsers.

If an article retrieved by a PubMed search is available from PubMed Central, it will appear in PubReader format. In PubMed Central searches, PubReader will be one of the viewing options.

The display is multi-column, and it’s easy to flip back and forth between pages. A tool called the Figure Strip enables access to all figures in the article, regardless of where which page the reader is on. Read more about PubReader and give it a try:


Mobile devices and health information

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Yesterday the Pew Internet & American Life Project released their report on the current intersection of mobile phones and health information.  The data in the report came from a survey of just over 3000 individuals conducted over August and September of this year.  Read on for what I considered to be some of the most interesting tidbits in the report.

Rendezvous: PubMed Health

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

PubMed Health logo with cartoon man and scattered pages

Edit: A recording is now available at

It’s time for another National Library of Medicine (NLM) resource! PubMed Health is a growing collection of clinical effectiveness information that aims to help users find the evidence that could answer their questions about effects of health care – and help them understand what they find.

Come join us on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1pm Pacific time (Noon Alaska, 2pm Mountain) during our free monthly webcast at to learn more about PubMed Health, including recent developments – some as recent as this week. The session will be presented by Hilda Bastian, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Find out more about clinical effectiveness information at NCBI, and where it fits in. (more…)

QR Your Mobile Resources – A Brief How To

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

mobile phone scanning a QR code
1. find QR code by cocreatr

Do you have a mobile-optimized website or other mobile resources to feature at an open house or similar event?

Here is a step by step guide about how we created a quick response (QR) code flyer and introduced students to National Library of Medicine (NLM) Mobile resources at a recent open house for the University of Washington Health Sciences Library. (more…)