Happtique mRx Trial Prompts Doctors to Prescribe Mobile Apps to Patients

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2012-05-10 Print this article Print

Mobile app store host Happtique has launched a trial to see if its mobile tool will encourage doctors to prescribe health applications and be effective enough to convince patients to actually download them.

Now you may leave the doctor's office with not only a prescription for medication but an Rx for a mobile application to help take better care of yourself.

Happtique, a company that operates a mobile app store for health care, has announced mRx, a trial that will test whether the company's mobile app will encourage doctors to prescribe mobile software for patient use.

Happtique, whose name stands for health app boutique, is a subsidiary of GNYHA Ventures, the business division of the Greater New York Hospital Association, a trade organization for hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The company offers branded multiplatform app stores to health care organizations. It also offers a certification program to vet mobile health apps for doctors, nurses and patients. The program is similar to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, said Ben Chodor, CEO of Happtique.

Happtique launched the mRx trial to see if a prescribing app and catalog of mobile tools would increase the use of mobile apps in doctors' care routines.

"We want to test whether health professionals, when provided with the prescribing technology and a vetted app catalog, will actually integrate apps into their delivery of health care," Chodor told eWEEK in an email. "Additionally, we want to test whether patients, when provided with an app as part of their health care treatment, prevention and wellness plan, will download the app as prescribed."

The program will train doctors and specialists in how to integrate the apps into their treatment of patients. As the trial progresses, Happtique will build a catalog of five to 10 apps for both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

Announced May 9, the trial will recruit doctors with a specialty in treating heart disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal conditions. Happtique will also look for physical therapists and trainers to test health and fitness apps.

As part of the trial, Happtique will provide doctors with the mRx app. Patients can download it from the Apple App Store, the Google Play store or directly if they're using an HTML5 app, said Chodor.

For HTML5 and on the Google Android OS, doctors email the app to a patient's mobile phone or tablet, but for Apple iOS devices, doctors send the patient an email link to download the app from iTunes, said Chodor.

Happtique will monitor the number and frequency of apps that doctors prescribe. Although the company will track if patients download them, it won't monitor patients' use of the apps, Chodor explained.

"The prescriber will know whether the patient downloads the app onto their device," he said. The mRx program could improve doctor-patient communication, patient engagement, compliance and patients' health, according to Dr. Steven Magid of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

"We believe that apps 'prescribed' by health professionals and sent directly onto a patient's personal device have a much greater likelihood of being downloaded and used than apps casually recommended during a patient visit," said Chodor. "And that's really what mRx is about€”using prescribing technology to translate the potential of mobile health into improved patient engagement and outcomes."

Prescribing mobile health apps will allow doctors and patients to improve their connection and bring about healthy behavior changes, according to Chodor.

Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.

Follow him on Twitter: @bthorowitz


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