Medical Consent app is a great idea but raises controversial security implications

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Recently, a new type of medical app was released on to the app store.

These apps are designed to allow doctors to consent patients for procedures, operations and certain investigations.

The need for consent is one of the fundamental principles of ethical medical treatment.

It is encouraging to see medical apps developed to help bring this key process into the digital era.

Read on to find out more about the recently released Consent app. 

 


The Consent app offers healthcare professionals an alternative to paper based consent forms. The Consent app can be used to consent for any investigation or procedure. The consent app is used to create forms stored on the device which can then be emailed (as PDF files) or printed directly from the device.

Setting up a form is relatively straightforward and forms can be saved as templates for future use. The first step in consenting a patient is adding all the appropriate patient details (see screenshot)

Once these have been added, it is possible to select that patient from the list of patients and their details are atomically added to the consent form. There are a number of basic forms included, although there is the option to add your own forms,

Filling out the form is straightforward and useful. Most questions have a drop down box which allows the user to choose the correct option. There are also useful options to allow the healthcare professional to annotate and draw various procedures in order to ensure that the patient understands the procedure.

When it comes to any medical application that deals with patient identifiable date, security is of utmost importance. Consent aims to secure data by offering users to set up a passcode

However, given the significant amount of personal data stored in this device, I would want to ensure that all this data is encrypted. I am also concerned by the ability of this app to email completed consent forms. Email is notoriously insecure unless it has been specifically encrypted. It is not clear from any of the documentation whether or not this is the case and it would be beneficial if the developers could address these security concerns.

One drawback I noted was that there are  a number of buttons that don’t appear to do anything. The user interface is clear most of the time but I was often left confused trying to work out how to add patients/forms and other such key operations.

Price:

  • Free

Likes

  • The idea of completing consent forms using an app
  • Electronic completion of consent form means everything is clear and legible
  • Ability to print forms directly using AirPrint

 Dislikes

  • Potentially significant security implications
  • Significant number of broken links and buttons that don’t work
  • Having to store patient data on the device

Conclusion

  • I really like the idea behind the Consent app. It aims to offer healthcare professionals the ability to consent patients. However, I am concerned about the security of the data on the device and also think there are a number of final development points to be carried out before this app can be completely recommended.

iMedicalApps Recommended?

  • Not yet (needs confirmation of data security and enhanced ability to export forms/improved user interface)

iTunes Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 3/5

  • User interface – 2
  • Multimedia usage – 3
  • Price - 5
  • Real world applicability - 3

Disclaimer: This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider. 

Discussion ( 3 comments ) Post a Comment
  • Hi,
    This app does look potentially useful but it’s not in the NZ App Store. Does it allow you to create a form and print it out without the patient info filled in? If so it seems you could use it to customise a form for a patient, print it, just put a patient label on it, sign and file it. I hate duplicating work, so spending time entering patient info into an app when I have a string of stickers with all the data on it already seems like a waste. Furthermore, the ability to store the forms on the iPad, as you point out, is fraught with security and privacy issues, but also is generally useless anyway if it doesn’t get into a patient’s chart that way. So if it could be used to just quickly generate a consent form specific to that patient and procedure, it would be quite useful.

    Matthew Valentine MD
    • Pleased that you found this app which is only on a UK release! As doctors we wanted to build something which helped us to communicate with patients. The app assists with giving a patient comprehensive information for a procedure and allows you to create and print a form or email it to the patient or others.

      The app has not been released generally as its undergoing intensive testing in the UK, the only place where downloads are officially available. Sorry you found broken links, we have not been able to replicate those. Some icons are not active when various menus are open. Is that the problem?

      Security is always an issue. Apple devices are allowed by the UK National Health Service providing they have appropriate protection. There is plenty of precedent for patient data being sent by electronically. We are working with healthcare institutions to ensure data protection and governance.

      Please do watch out for improved versions and the iPhone version is coming soon.

      • With lots of helpful feedback we have improved the interface and released an iPhone version of the Consent app. The iPhone version has some differences relating to functionality with a smaller screen size. We still regard this an an evaluation phase so the app remains free to download.

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