A certification program by the Happtique mobile health application marketplace will evaluate mobile health apps for functionality and security.
Happtique, an online mobile
health application marketplace, has announced it will develop a certification
program to vet thousands of mobile applications that doctors, nurses and
The company hosts a
multiplatform application store for hospitals, continuing care facilities and
doctors' practices using an indexing method called hApp. The company is a unit
of GNYHA Ventures, the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital
Happtique sees the new
certification program as a "Good Housekeeping" seal of mobile health
applications, CEO Ben Chodor told eWEEK.
The organization created the
program based on feedback from providers and hospitals, Corey Ackerman,
president of Happtique, told eWEEK.
will evaluate which applications are appropriate for clinical use and those
that are outdated or poorly built.
Happtique has appointed a
Blue Ribbon panel of experts to vet the mobile health applications. They include
Dr. Howard Luchs, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at New York Medical
College in Valhalla, N.Y.; Dr. Franklin A. Shaffer, CEO of CGFNS International,
a certification organization for foreign nursing school graduates; Dr. Shuvo
Roy, director of the Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory at the University of
California, San Francisco; and cancer patient and blogger Dave deBronkart
The panel provides a mix of
knowledge in social media and core technology as well as medical expertise,
Happtique announced the
certification program Jan. 17 and will develop it within six months. Developer
application fees will fund the program.
Evaluation criteria will
include functionality, usability and security, said Barbara Green, senior vice
president at Happtique. Any application, whether it is in the Happtique mobile
application store or not, is eligible to be reviewed by the organization.
"Anyone who builds an
app that's m-health related is able to be reviewed," said Chodor.
With the certification
program, Happtique plans to provide constructive feedback for application
developers on how to make their applications better, rather than bashing applications
publicly, said Chodor. If an application fails, they can reapply, but their
failure may or may not be made public based on the panel's decision.
"The goal is not to
slap the hand of those that don't meet criteria," said Chodor. Instead,
the organization will focus on promoting applications that get approved.
Rather than limit the number
of mobile health applications on the market with its certification program,
Happtique aims to "level the playing field" for health applications,
Happtique sees a need for an
authoritative endorsement of applications that doctors will recommend to
patients. With the FDA not able to evaluate 15 to 20 percent of mobile health
applications, an opportunity exists for Happtique to add additional
evaluations, Ackerman suggested.
"[The FDA] won't be
regulating 100 percent of the apps, and since it's such a large number, it's
going to leave a large number of apps that are not subject to their review and
approval process," said Ackerman. "So there's a need for the public
to find a way to judge the remaining apps," he said.
In addition, the FDA has
said it will regulate those mobile health products that classify
as a medical device
and a small group of medical applications that would
directly affect a patient's health.
"Docs will not want to
review an app unless it's reviewed by some sort of committee like ours,"
The Happtique mobile health
application ratings will differ from crowdsource rankings in the Android Market
or Apple App Store because of the professional backing of Happtique, which is
part of a large hospital association. In the popular application stores, it is
often unclear whether applications are being rated based on downloads, revenue
or popularity, said Ackerman.
"It might be wonderful
that an app got four or five stars from 1,800 people," said Ackerman,
referring to application stores, such as Android Market. But the fact remains,
"You really don't know who the crowd is."