Research out of Curtin University has found that poor registration processes and concerns over data governance could be the biggest obstacle in getting consumers on board with digital health initiatives.
Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study underlines the need for improved public understanding of data security and increased transparency by health app managers, lead researcher David Lim said.
Lim, from Curtin’s School of Public Health, added that the research also identified a number of characteristics linked to users’ willingness to adopt digital health technologies, with those with the highest education levels most willing to use health apps.
However, this group also had the strongest expectations around data governance and had strong negative associations with apps implemented by private consultancy firms or with little governance structure.
The second most willing subgroup identified in the research were those without chronic medical conditions, whose attitude towards the apps were shaped by a reduction in the risk of medical errors.
As social media highlighted during the opt-out period of the My Health Record rollout, many people with chronic health conditions were vocally against the notion of digital health apps that could negatively impact on their ability to gain an unbiased second opinion from independent healthcare sources.
Social media groups also expressed concern over the ownership of their own data and poor governance practices that could increase the risk of unauthorised data sharing or a data breach.
Lim said these findings were important as healthcare providers transition to increasingly digital operating methods.
“When healthcare systems become completely digital, filling out paperwork could become a thing of the past so it is important for every person to educate themselves on how an app manages their data, and perhaps to recognise how their data is secured by the app developers,” he said.
“Mobile health app developers or companies also need to be more transparent with consumers on how they manage and view their consumers’ data.”