Happtique Plans Mobile Health App Certification Program

Mobile health app store will look at quality, performance, clinical appropriateness, and technical functionality of growing number of options for medical professionals.

Nicole Lewis, Contributor

January 18, 2012

3 Min Read

5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems

5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems

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Mobile health applications are about to come under increasing scrutiny from Happtique, Inc., which recently announced that it has established a multi-disciplinary blue-ribbon panel to guide the development of a certification program that will evaluate and certify apps for professionals and patients.

The certification program will specify quality and performance standards that will guide hospitals, physicians, patients, and other health stakeholders on a health app's clinical appropriateness and technical functionality.

Founded in 2010, Happtique offers a mobile health app store known as hApp, where healthcare providers can scroll through a catalog of health apps to select the ones that are suitable for their needs. Last year the company began sorting the apps into more-specific clinical topics and found that during its discussions with industry leaders, many were asking for more information on the clinical value of the health apps they were interested in.

[ For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch. ]

"We have been asked in virtually every conversation with hospitals and other healthcare providers whether we can help them determine which apps are suitable for their doctors, nurses, and other staff to use, as well as their patients," Corey Ackerman, president of Happtique, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

"Our mission is to have a program with standards that enable specialists to review an application that pertains to their particular specialty, so that they may determine its appropriateness," Ackerman said. "For example, is the content within the app derived from peer-reviewed studies, industry accepted protocols, or, is it merely a layperson's regurgitation of content from Wikipedia? The goal is to provide the healthcare professional and the patient with an independent conclusion, from healthcare professionals about an app."

Although the Food and Drug Administration has introduced draft guidelines to regulate the use of mobile medical apps and accessories, Ackerman said the FDA's program will monitor only one fifth of the mobile health products on the market.

"That will leave 80% of the apps unaccounted for, and so there is a need for a program for that remaining group," Ackerman said. Zachary Bujnoch, Frost & Sullivan's senior industry analyst covering telehealth, said there is a place for a mobile health app certification program of the kind Happtique is seeking to establish.

"With the increasing attention medical apps have received from the public at large, there has been a growing number of medical app stores," Bujnoch said. Efforts like Happtique's "can help provide additional standardization and verification for the still-very-confusing medical app market."

Happtique officials said the blue-ribbon panel is expected to complete the development of the certification program in approximately six months. The voluntary program will be open to all app developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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