Is Your Health App Telling You the Truth?

Jake Rossen
IStock / IStock

Thanks to a booming wellness app industry, smartphone owners are able to access an incredibly comprehensive amount of data about their bodies. Users can check, record, and transmit information on blood pressure, blood sugar, temperature, and other vitals using software and accessories; this information is then often used to chart the progress of ongoing ailments. But not all health apps are as accurate as you think.

While over 165,000 programs exist on the market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only a tiny fraction: roughly 160 apps. The vast majority have no regulatory oversight, which has led to some apps coming under fire for inaccurate readings. One recent study at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that an app known as Instant Blood Pressure missed high readings in 8 of 10 patients. (The program worked by having users hold their cell phones against their chests.) It is no longer being offered for sale.

The FDA maintains a list of apps it has formally examined on its web site and plans to adopt a universal standard of review in the near future. Until then, they recommend checking in with your physician before relying on any information coming from a phone application. It may not be as smart as you think.

[h/t CBS Local]