Mobile Health Innovation and Interagency
Rachel E. Sachs*
An app that can tell when a phone’s owner is having a seizure.1 A device
that transforms a phone into a mobile EKG machine.
2 An app that helps
patients track their moles over time—and maybe alerts them when they
should see a doctor.
3 Just a few years ago, these descriptions would have
sounded like science fiction. But each of these products is now available to
patients, and the mobile health industry is growing rapidly.
4 Even as of 2015,
there were well over 100,000 mobile health apps available for download,
with the market continuing to grow.
The rapid expansion of the mobile health industry has opened up
tremendous possibilities for gathering and using personal health data to
discover new correlations and solve vexing problems of human illness.
has also begun to give patients unprecedented control over their own health
7 But unlike most other healthcare technologies, mobile health
apps like those described above often operate in a comparatively lawless
Rachel E. Sachs, JD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Law at Washington University in
St. Louis. For their extremely thoughtful comments and suggestions in developing this paper,
I would like to thank Nicolas Terry and the many scholars who participated in the 2016
American Society of Law, Medicine, & Ethics Conference and the 2016 Loyola University
Chicago School of Law Annual Symposium on Health Law Policy.
1. Kendall Morgan, There’s An App for That, ELSEVIER (June 25, 2015),
2. Jonah Comstock, AliveCor ECG gets FDA Clearance for Two More Algorithms,
MOBIHEALTHNEWS (Jan. 29, 2015), http://www.mobihealthnews.com/40089/alivecor-ecg-
3. OHSU Dermatology, What is MoleMapper?, OHSU HEALTHCARE (2017),
4. Joshua A. Krisch, Questioning the Value of Health Apps, N. Y. TIMES (Mar. 16, 2015),
6. Doug Vogel et al., Mobile Health, 23 ELECTRONIC MARKETS 3, 3 (Feb. 6, 2013),
7. Eric Topol, Coming Soon to a Health System Near You: Digitized, Democratized
Medicine, HEALTHCARE FINANCIAL MEMBERSHIP ASS’N (Apr. 27, 2016),