FDA To Consider Use of Digital Tools for Patient Self-Screening

FDA recently announced that it will hold public hearings on whether consumers should be able to use online questionnaires, patient kiosks or other technologies to conduct self-screenings and obtain certain medications that currently require prescriptions, U-T San Diego reports.

The agency said the hearings will be take place on Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C.


The agency will consider ending prescription requirements for drugs commonly used for various conditions, such as:

  • Asthma;
  • Diabetes;
  • High blood pressure;
  • High cholesterol; and
  • Migraines.

Agency officials in a Federal Register notice said, "FDA is aware that industry is developing new technologies that consumers could use to self-screen for a particular disease or condition and determine whether a particular medication is appropriate for them."

FDA said individuals might be able to determine whether they need certain medications by answering a series of questions on a website or on pharmacy kiosks.

Health applications on mobile devices also could help consumers assess their own health, according to U-T San Diego.


However, some experts warn that consumers might have trouble understanding the large amount of medical information that patient kiosks and other new technologies could provide.

Charles Daniels -- pharmacist-in-chief for the University of California-San Diego Health System -- said, "Some of the nonmedical public will be able to process information and help themselves, but not all will be good at it." He added, "Clinical experience in diagnosis and treatment can't be replaced, but very smart devices built around that experience make sense. FDA will have a big challenge determining if the devices can do their job and provide the right advice to users" (Robbins, U-T San Diego, 3/18).

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