What We're Reading: AMA Issues Mobile Health Guidelines

What we’re reading, November 21, 2016: 1 in 4 US children do not have access to essential healthcare, even though many are insured; the American Medical Association has released guidelines for the safe use of mobile health devices and applications; the FDA will delay finalization of its policy on the regulation of laboratory-developed tests.

Though the number of uninsured children in the United States has dropped to a record low 3.3 million, a recent report by the Children’s Health Fund has found that 1 in 4 children do not have access to essential healthcare. The study reported that even children with insurance can encounter barriers that prevent them from receiving primary care or specialty care, including financial obstacles and geographic barriers. According to the study, repealing the Affordable Care Act could exacerbate the problem by leaving over 3 million children suddenly uninsured.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has released guidelines on the safe and effective use of mobile health tools, which include mobile applications, fitness trackers, and other digital devices. The AMA recommends that digital tools should follow evidence-based best practices and support patient-centered care. It also said that physicians should receive legal counsel on patient privacy standards and educate patients on the possible privacy risks of some unregulated health apps.

The FDA had previously said that it would release its final guidelines on the regulation of laboratory-developed tests by the end of 2016, but a spokesperson recently announced that no final policy would be issued until the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump is in effect. Those in favor of applying medical device regulations to these unregulated tests have expressed concerns that the tests could produce inaccurate results and lead to unnecessary treatment.