With the maturing world of mobile health apps, the healthcare industry is advancing closer to the launch of its first certification program.
Happtique is preparing to release findings from its open comment period held to gather insights from stakeholders on ways the certification program can be improved. Ben Chodor, the CEO of New York-based Happtique, said he has been pleased that the main thrust of the comments have been on small clarification issues rather than significant problems with the certification criteria.
“We’re amazed how much people agreed with the guidelines. We were expecting a hailstorm of comments and were amazed that no one said, ‘This is a bad idea.’ If anything, the feedback will enhance the program.” Looking ahead to the launch of the mobile health app certification program expected later this year, he added: “We can’t wait to see what happens when we open the floodgates.”
The rationale for a certification is to standardize expectations from issues like security, HIPAA compliance and simply providing a way to cut through the clutter of duplicate apps. Happtique’s argument has been that a certification program will lead to developers building more compelling apps for the marketplace.
Happtique has also been pleased with how recruitment for its pilot prescription app program has progressed. It has been recruiting physicians to evaluate the process of prescribing apps to patients, how many patients download them and what effect it has on their adherence and interaction with the physician. It is recruiting up to 500 physicians through the end of September for the 45-day program across five areas: rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy, diabetes, physical therapy and personal training.
Although Chodor emphasized that the pilot program is only an evaluation, he expressed interest in doing a more formal clinical trial over a six- to eight-month time frame to better measure mobile health apps’ impact on patient-physician interaction and adherence.
With 13,000 health, fitness and medical apps available, the mobile health market is getting increasingly sophisticated and complex. In July, for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first “smart pill” that works in tandem with a mobile device to detect when a pill has been taken. Developed by Proteus Digital Health, the 1-square millimeter sensor made from silicon can be embedded in a pill and swallowed. A mobile device picks up data relayed by the sensor that can be accessed by physicians and caregivers.
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