Certification is not just for EHR systems anymore — now it’s for mobile health apps, too. Happtique, which runs a mobile health app store targeted to the health care industry, has announced plans to develop a certification program for mHealth apps.
The program is currently being developed with guidance from a panel of “blue ribbon” experts, chaired by Howard Luks, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at New York Medical College. The other three panel members are Dr. Franklin Shaffer, chief executive officer of CGFNS International, Shuvo Roy, a biomedical scientist and technologist and Dave deBronkart, a.k.a. e-Patient Dave.
The goal of the certification program is to develop a set of quality and performance standards that can be used to evaluate mHealth apps. However, it’s not clear how those standards will be determined, or what will actually be certified. The panel will be developing the certification program over the next six months. Some of the panelists have indicated that “they’re looking to include criteria for app quality, reliability, usability, consumer engagement, value to the user, cost, simplicity, and interoperability,” according to an article on FierceMobileHealthcare.
Luks told FierceMobileHealthcare the idea is that apps in the Happtique store would be graded granularly, giving them more than just a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” rating.
Providers and hospitals have been asking for a “bona fide mhealth app certification program,” Happtique President Corey Ackerman told eWeek.com, noting that the FDA is unable to evaluate 15-20% of mobile health applications, leaving the door open for Happtique to add additional evaluations.
It will be interesting to see if the Happtique certification carries any real weight with users, and if the certification criteria will be updated on a regular basis. Until then, users will have to make do with crowd-sourced ratings and caveat emptor.