BMJ. 2021 Jun 16;373:n1248. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n1248.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether and what user data are collected by health related mobile applications (mHealth apps), to characterise the privacy conduct of all the available mHealth apps on Google Play, and to gauge the associated risks to privacy.
DESIGN: Cross sectional study SETTING: Health related apps developed for the Android mobile platform, available in the Google Play store in Australia and belonging to the medical and health and fitness categories.
PARTICIPANTS: Users of 20 991 mHealth apps (8074 medical and 12 917 health and fitness found in the Google Play store: in-depth analysis was done on 15 838 apps that did not require a download or subscription fee compared with 8468 baseline non-mHealth apps.
CONCLUSIONS: This analysis found serious problems with privacy and inconsistent privacy practices in mHealth apps. Clinicians should be aware of these and articulate them to patients when determining the benefits and risks of mHealth apps.