By Ben Chodor
A recent study by PwC show that over 50 percent of patients believe mHealth will make healthcare substantially more convenient as well as improving how they seek information on health issues. And they’re not alone. Doctors who participated in the same study agree, saying that “the impact of mHealth on relationships with patients will be about as big as that of the Internet”. However, despite the booming health app marketplace, clinicians have important concerns about mHealth. Chief among those are privacy and security of patient data, as well as concerns about the “legitimacy” of many health and wellness apps. Let’s face it: start-ups and garage developers run counter to an establishment that requires professionals to spend years in school, complete residencies, and maintain licenses to practice.
Providers and patients need to know that the apps they use do what they promise to do—but right now, there’s no method for evaluating health apps. Happtique is filling this void with an App Certification Program to validate the operability, privacy, security, and content of health apps. The Happtique team spent months conferring with a variety of healthcare and mHealth thought leaders to create draft app certification standards that have now been posted for public comment here.
Once the comment period closes, Happtique will finalize the standards and launch the App Certification Program. Developers will have to submit their apps for review; the apps that meet the certification standards will receive Happtique’s seal of approval. We think this program is a huge step toward helping patients and providers feel more confident about the apps they select.
But certification is only one piece. The other issue is how to get apps into clinical practice. Healthcare isn’t a traditional B-to-C market. Healthcare consumers, i.e., patients, have always relied on a trusted intermediary—a clinician—to tell them what products (pharmaceuticals) and services (treatments) to purchase. We think the key to getting physicians to integrate apps into their routine clinical practice is to provide a simple, secure mechanism for clinicians to deliver apps to patients.
Happtique has created and will be testing our mRx patent-pending solution, which allows clinicians to “prescribe” apps electronically to individual patients. The solution puts the selection of healthcare apps into the hands of healthcare professionals. In the near future, Happtique envisions physicians creating their own app formularies or lists based on their specialties and patients’ needs.
So how do we bring mHealth into routine clinical practice? Treatment begins and ends with clinicians. Converting the medical establishment means verifying that apps are safe and effective, and deploying apps in a way that is simple and secure. If we continue to build mHealth solutions that improve patient engagement and outcomes, physicians will certainly get on board.
Ben Chodor is CEO of Happtique which is a mobile health application store and app management solution founded in 2010 by GNYHA Ventures, Inc., the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association.
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.