Do Self-Diagnosis Smartphone Apps Work?
Find out why doctors say the apps might not be the best resource and what they recommend instead.Playlist
When it comes to your health, trust a doctor more than a smartphone app – that’s the takeaway of a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It recently used four popular skin cancer apps, to analyze nearly 200 photos of skin moles, including dozens that were confirmed melanomas. Then, researchers compared the results from the apps to diagnoses from trained dermatologists, and the results weren’t even close. The apps only accurately identified about 70% of the dangerous moles. But the trained dermatologists spotted 90% of melanomas with one glance!
Experts say that’s a big deal, when you consider that 1-in-3 of us now diagnose our health problems online, whether we’re Googling them or using a smartphone app. But less than half of us go to a doctor to have that diagnosis confirmed! So a lot of people are walking around trusting what they read online – or the information they got from an app. But health apps don’t need approval from the FDA, and they’re under no obligation to prove they’re effective, or even safe.
That’s why health experts worry, that as we become more reliant on our smartphones, we’ll see our doctors less. The good news is that most health apps already come with disclaimers, warning patients not to use apps as a replacement for a doctor visit. So, if you’re serious about staying healthy – or worried about something – trust your doctor, not a smartphone app.