Happtique Unveils First Round of Certified Health Apps

12-2-2013 11-36-23 PM

New York-based mHealth startup Happtique unveils its first round of certified health apps this week. The long expected unveil was more than three years in the making. Happtique initially launched as a spin off from the Greater New York Health Association Ventures on the idea of a mobile health app marketplace in November 2010, with an initial marketplace launch targeted for mid-2011.

For the next several years, Happtique worked to build itself into a mobile health app formulary service vendor. The company planned to evaluate health apps for clinical effectiveness, privacy, and safety, and then market the formulary to hospitals and health systems so that physicians could review available options and safely recommend them to patients. To support this effort, Happtique began developing the framework for a certification program in 2012.

Final certification guidelines were published in March 2013. As per the certification guidelines, each app is independently tested to validate security, privacy, and usability. Content is then evaluated by members of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Developers were also required to submit FDA approval documentation, if applicable.

"One of the major barriers to widespread clinical adoption of health apps is the inability of providers and patients to identify which apps to use. Happtique’s Health App Certification Program offers an objective way for users to determine if an app will protect personal information, operate as promised, and ensure that the clinical information included in the app has been documented and verified," – Corey Ackerman, President and COO of Happtique.

Developers paid an initial $3,000 certification fee to submit their apps for certification testing. Once approved, each certification is good for two years, so long as the app does not undergo any significant revisions during that period. There are 19 certified apps that are now being introduced to the app registry, contributed from 10 health IT companies.

The app registry itself is limited in value due to a weak UI. There is no search tool, which is not a major problem with only 19 apps, but a shortcoming that end users expect and something that will inevitably need to be added. Apps are assigned categories, but they registry cannot be sorted by these category so it isn’t clear how to review all available heart health apps, or fitness apps.

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Once an app is selected, and the user moves into the the app details section of the registry, there is even less information available. The app’s icon takes up one-third of the screen, with Happtique’s own branding and certification standards taking up half of the remaining real estate. The lower left hand section of the screen is the only area dedicated to conveying app specific data. Here versioning data can be found, along with a link to the developers website. From within the app registry, it is not clear what each app does, who its targeted end users are, and how to find the app within the app store.

Regardless, as HIStalk Connect recently reported, there is very little competition in the space Happtique is operating, so early design issues might not be at the top of Happtique’s to do list. Getting more apps tested and certified be of greater value. As of now, there aren’t enough apps to draw much interest to the registry, for either patients or physicians.

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