Health IT, Patient Engagement

From the ashes of Happtique, we’re seeing a health app curation revival

The push to develop safe health apps was a theme that ran through a few new developments this week from app developers behaving badly to the multi-pronged Xcertia initiative launched at the Connected Health conference to SocialWellth’s revamp of a Happtique app curation program.

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SocialWellth launched its reimagined Happtique app curation platform for consumers this week, two years after acquiring the assets of the business co-founded by Ben Chodor. The push to develop safe health apps was a theme that ran through a few new developments this week from app developers behaving badly to a multi-pronged initiative launched at the Connected Health conference.

Apps in the Happtique curation program undergo a review that includes an assessment of privacy and security settings to ensure they adequately protect consumers’ health data privacy, according to a description in a news release. Each app is scored on criteria such as relevance, value, user ratings, scientific evidence and consumer engagement.

“We take our enterprise level curation process, leveraging experts and an established set of industry guidelines, to create a personalized mini app boutique around a consumer’s own goals and interests,” David Vinson, SocialWellth founder and CEO, said in the news release.

There’s also an interactive component for users. They are encouraged to take part in quick polls to obtain feedback and gauge the quality of their user experience. The interface also connects users to social media so they can more easily share their opinions about the apps they use.

The news dovetailed with the launch of Xcertia to improve the safety of health app development an initiative founded by the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, HIMSS and DHX Group, which is also headed by Vinson. The idea is to generate participation from hospitals, payers, physicians, nurses, patients and technology companies — all with a stake in ensuring that apps can be validated to the satisfaction of the medical community with the goal of prescribing them to patients.

But some health systems are already doing this on their own. Last month, Mount Sinai Health System and its affiliated medical school, Icahn School of Medicine, launched RxUniverse. The program is intended to provide a sustainable, enterprise-wide platform that allows physicians to prescribe medically reviewed mobile health apps to patients. There are also plans for Sinai AppLab and Mount Sinai Innovation Partners to launch a startup company, Responsive Health, to commercialize and license this technology to other healthcare providers.

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A few years ago, IMS Health launched a mobile health curation program as well. With the merger with Quintiles this year to form QuintilesIMS. the AppScript curation program is now available in a few countries in addition to the U.S., including the UK, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. AppScript can use big data and clinical evaluations to provide objective, fact-based assessments of mobile health technologies on behalf of providers, payers, patients and other healthcare stakeholders, a spokesman stated in an email.

The Federal Trade Commission also offered a reminder of what happens to developers when they misled the public about the accuracy and safety of their health apps. Aura Labs and its co-owner are behind a best-selling app that compares its accuracy to a standard blood pressure cuff. The FTC slapped them with a ban against making unsupported claims about their apps in the future.