Apps are becoming a larger part of the health care landscape — one-fifth of smartphone users had health apps in 2012 — but it’s rare for them to have privacy policies that actually protect patient data, a study finds. In other health technology news, a simple wand could make it easier for doctors to receive updates on their patients, and new software lets home care aides and non-medical workers spot potential problems before they get worse.
Doctors could keep better tabs on their patients between visits with a simple wave of a magic wand-like device being developed at Dartmouth College. The prototype, dubbed “Wanda,” is part of a multi-university project to develop ways to protect patient confidentiality as health care increasingly moves out of hospitals and doctors’ offices and into the home. But beyond safety, simplicity also is a key goal, said doctoral student Tim Pierson, Wanda’s creator. (3/6)
There is little in Ruby’s life that is easy. Nearly blind and unable to walk more than a step or two, the 39-year-old struggles to raise three sons while dealing with a daunting array of health conditions, from diabetes that recently landed her in the hospital to pain from bulging spinal disks. Without support, odds are she’ll end up back in a hospital. But Ruby, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her family’s privacy, is part of a growing effort to reduce those odds by arming home care aides and other non-medical workers with the power of data. (Appleby, 3/9)