We’ve written before about how fitness and healthcare apps are making people fitter, happier and more productive (in a cool way, not in the creepy way Thom Yorke implied in those Radiohead lyrics). In fact, we even put together a wishlist of fitness apps we’d like to see from visual designers, just in case you want to create your own mobile healthcare app but don’t know how to rise above the fray with a unique idea in what seems to be a market saturated with medical apps.
But as cool as healthcare apps are, designers and developers need to take care to make sure that their products aren’t just functional and beautiful, but also safe — and there are two separate, but important components to that safety. Creators of healthcare and medical apps must be careful not to endanger the life of the user with their apps’ functionality, and they must also ensure that user data is protected from data thieves and other privacy threats.
Fitbit and Heart Rate Monitoring: A Tale of Two Data Points
Nobody understands this double-edged sword better, perhaps, than Fitbit. On one hand (the one wearing the tracker itself?), Fitbit has actually saved a man’s life by providing critical data to emergency personnel at a hospital where he arrived following a seizure. By looking at his Fitbit data, medical providers were able to determine that cardioverting an atrial fibrillation would save his life rather than do the opposite, triggering a life-threatening stroke.
On the other hand, Fitbit also had to face a class-action lawsuit alleging that the heartrate data on its HR, Surge and Blaze trackers was dangerously inaccurate, underestimating heart rates in unsafe zones and lulling its users into a false sense of security as they exercised.
Designing Healthcare Apps With Safety and Security in Mind
Apps are the future of healthcare, but if you have a game-changing medical app idea, you need to take special care to protect the precious data your app will handle. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about designing healthcare apps, from accessible UI design to keeping hackers out of pacemakers and insulin pumps.