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Response to “App Store Becoming a Virtual Pharmacy?” From Happtique’s Ben Chodor

Posted on June 20, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

I recently wrote a post about Happtique, which I misidentified as an app creator. Fortunately for me, Ben Ch0dor, commented on the post and provided some more insight into the company, which according to Happtique’s website, “is the first mobile application store for healthcare professionals by healthcare professionals.” I decided to post the comment, so anyone interesting in the idea of “prescribing apps” can get a better idea about what Happtique’s mission is, and what it has to offer.

At Happtique, we love a good debate and welcome comments about our initiatives. We would like to clarify that Happtique is not an app creator. The apps in our catalog are from the Apple App Store — we’ve organized them with an extensive classification system in an effort to make it easier to find relevant health apps. The further assist in identifying quality apps, Happtique is developing a program that will validate the operability, privacy, security, and content of health apps.

For our mRx app prescribing trial, we are working with physicians, physical therapists, and trainers to select apps that are currently in the marketplace (none of which we developed). We agree that app prescribing should not replace pill prescribing. Instead, we see mRx as an enhancement to the continuum of care. It allows physicians to connect their patients with relevant, appropriate mHealth apps. This should improve outcomes, since educated and involved patients are far more likely to follow treatment recommendations, use preventative series, comply with medication regimens, and choose healthier lifestyles.

I appreciate that Chodor took the time to better explain the company. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t think that apps should replace pills, and I’m happy to hear that Happtique hopes that mRx will just become “an enhancement to the continuum of care.”

It is pretty neat that Happtique is creating a catalog of already-existing apps so it easier to find health apps that are relevant to particular conditions. If mRx does become more mainstream in practices around the country (and maybe even world), this would be extremely helpful for healthcare providers, in my opinion. I mean, there are sure to be a bunch of health apps floating around that shouldn’t be prescribed, so if a doctor can just view this catalog and trust that the apps are reputable, it would make the process of mRx prescribing a lot easier. I feel like a lot more doctors would be wanting to prescribe apps if they didn’t have to try and find the reputable ones themselves. Of course, John pointed out that Happtique’s app certification could also go very wrong. We’ll see how it plays out.

New mHealth App Certification – The Next CCHIT Like Mistake

Posted on January 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I first heard about the new Secure, Branded App Store for Hospitals and Healthcare called Happtique in early December on Techcrunch. At its core, I think it’s an interesting idea to try and filter through what the article claims are “23,000 mobile health apps available for iOS and Android.” Helping physicians and hospital administrators filter through these apps could be valuable. Plus, most hospital administrators would love a way to have a phone that was limited on which apps it could download.

Well, it seems that the company has shifted gears a little bit. As Brian Dolan from Mobi Health News reported, Happtique is taking the first steps to setting up a certification for mobile health apps.

Happtique, a healthcare-focused appstore, announced plans to create a certification program that will help the medical community determine which of the tens of thousands of health-related mobile apps are clinically appropriate and technically sound. The company has tapped a multi-disciplinary team to develop the “bona fide mHealth app certification program” within the next six months. The program is open to all developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

It will certify apps intended to be used by both medical professionals and patients.

While I think that providing some way for people to filter through the large number of mobile apps, I think certification is a terrible way to go about it. Many people know I’ve written many an article about CCHIT pre-EHR incentive money and how screwed up the CCHIT EHR certification was for the industry. I think it’s just as bad news for Happtique to create a certification for the mobile health industry.

Turns out that Happtique seems to have agreed with this idea back in October 2010 where they said in a MobiHealthNews interview, “We are not in the business of opining whether an app is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ though. That’s not our role. Apple doesn’t do that and others don’t either. If the FDA indicates that an app is a medical device and needs to be regulated, well, that’s a different situation and we can take it out of the store.” Seems they’ve seen a different business opportunity.

They have a couple recognizable names on their board to create their certification including Howard Luks and Dave deBrokart (better known as e-Patient Dave), but I believe they’re going to find that it’s an impossible task. First, because they won’t have the breadth of knowledge needed to create certification requirements for every type of mHealth app. Second, what value will the certification really provide? Third, how do you make the certification broad enough to apply to all 20,000+ apps while still providing meaning to those using a very specific mHealth app? Plus, I’m sure there are many other issues I haven’t thought of yet.

The problem with these certification ideas is that they start with great intentions, but always end up bad.