According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers, a popular blood-pressure app was making serious errors by giving “highly inaccurate” results to the 150,000 users who have downloaded the app.
The findings of the study were featured in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, and they showed the digital health startup AuraLife’s Instant Blood Pressure (IBP) app was faulty in displaying results.
For the study, the researchers tested the app on 85 participants and noticed a tendency to report the users’ blood pressure was within the normal range even when it was in fact quite high.
These results are relevant to the public as many could be misled that their BP levels are in the non-hypertensive range. The experiments showed the app was giving false reports to four-fifths (77.5 percent) of individuals who actually had hypertensive blood pressure levels.
For unclear reasons, the IBP app has recently become unavailable, even as it was installed on a great number of iPhones. Apple users could purchase IBP from the App Store between June of 2014 and July of 2015 for $4.99.
The study’s authors said the IBP app remained in App Store’s 50-bestseller top for 156 consecutive days, while other apps with similar functions are still available on iPhone and Android app stores.
In order to have their BP tested, the users had to place the upper side of the smartphone on their chest as they covered up the camera with their right index finger.
According to AuraLife website, the startup behind the app is “on a mission to democratize access to knowledge and insight about individual well-being anytime, anywhere.” However, the company warned users that its IBP app should in no way be “relied upon for medical advice or a diagnosis.”
Even though this type of medical technology is touted by many for its empowering effects, regulators are still trying to crack down on some apps and play catch up with others.
In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission has forced the marketers of “melanoma detection” apps to settle because of their unsupported claim. Meanwhile, the FDA is trying to apply the same regulations to mobile medical apps as it does to medical devices.
According to IMS Health, the mobile health apps market is ever-growing, reaching more than 165,000 such apps at the moment. By the end of 2017, the sector could be worth $26 billion.
Image Source: Mother Jones