Happtique steps up to certify mobile health apps

By Brian Dolan
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HapptiqueHapptique, 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.

Happtique is a subsidiary of GNYHA Ventures, the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, and it has used its considerable network to assemble an impressive panel of advisers to put this certification program together. The four-person panel includes experts in patient engagement, social media, mHealth, healthcare accreditation and certification programs, and medicine. Dr. Howard Luks, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at New York Medical College will chair the panel, which also includes Dave deBronkart (ePatient Dave); Dr. Franklin Shaffer, CEO of of CGFNS International -- a certification organization for graduates of foreign nursing schools; and Shuvo Roy, Ph.D. a biomedical scientist and technologist who specializes in MEMS technologies.

While this level of curation seems to be a necessary and obvious measure for a healthcare-specific appstore, in late 2010 Happtique's President Corey Ackerman told MobiHealthNews that his organization had no plans to go in that direction. It was frustrating to hear at the time.

“We are not in the business of opining whether an app is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ though. That’s not our role," Ackerman told MobiHealthNews in an interview in October 2010. "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. If it’s related to or used by healthcare professionals, then we want it. We want [Happtique] to be as full as possible. We don’t have plans to delve into whether an app is ‘good or bad’ at this point, since there are thousands of apps out there.”

As we noted at the time, if Happtique doesn't step up to decide whether an app is worthwhile, it will miss the point of what is sorely lacking in the medical categories of appstores today -- curation.

Despite the need, this certification program will be a Herculean undertaking. Once the program is developed the number of health-related apps for both consumers and medical professionals in Apple's AppStore alone will top 20,000 based on MobiHealthNews' own research.

For more details on the planned program and its "blue ribbon panel" of advisors, read the entire press release below:

HAPPTIQUE FORMS A BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO OVERSEE DEVELOPMENT OF A MOBILE HEALTHCARE APP CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

January 11, 2012

New York, NY – Happtique, Inc. announced today that it has established a multi-disciplinary Blue Ribbon Panel to guide the development of a certification program that Happtique will offer to evaluate and certify mobile healthcare apps for professionals and patients. The certification program will specify quality and performance standards that focus on an app’s clinical appropriateness and technical functionality. Happtique’s Blue Ribbon Panel is charged with formulating both the quality and performance standards as well as the certification program’s operational procedures. The Panel is expected to complete the development of the certification program in approximately six months. The voluntary program will be open to all app developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

Happtique’s Certification Program Blue Ribbon Panel will be chaired by Howard J. Luks, M.D., M.S. Dr. Luks is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at New York Medical College (Valhalla, NY), and also serves as the Chief Of Sports Medicine And Arthroscopy at University Orthopedics, PC and Westchester Medical Center, where he trains Orthopedic Surgeons. Dr. Luks is very active in the intersection of social media and healthcare and is often interviewed by media outlets and invited to lecture at many Healthcare and social media events and meetings. He was recently elected to the Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic's Social Media Network.

Other panel members are:

Franklin A. Shaffer, EdD., RN, FAAN. Dr. Shaffer is the Chief Executive Officer of CGFNS International, the certification organization for graduates of foreign nursing schools and largest global credentialing organization for nursing and allied healthcare personnel authorized by the Federal government. Prior to joining CGFNS International last June, Dr. Shaffer was Executive Vice President of Cross Country Healthcare and Chief Nursing Officer for Cross Country Staffing. He is a member of the Nursing Advisory Council for the Joint Commission, the national accrediting body for healthcare organizations, and has held key positions with the National League for Nursing, the accrediting organization for nursing schools. Dr. Shaffer has held faculty positions at Teachers College Columbia University as well as several other leading academic institutions. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Shuvo Roy, Ph.D. is a leading biomedical scientist and technologist who specializes in medical applications of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology in such areas as minimally invasive surgical tools, wireless physiological monitors, and portable diagnostics. Currently, Dr. Roy serves as Director of the Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory and Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, School of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. Previously, he was at Cleveland Clinic where he served as Co-Director of the BioMEMS Laboratory and on the faculty of the Spine Research Laboratory. Dr. Roy has also held faculty positions in the Applied Biomedical Engineering Program at Cleveland State University and in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Molecular Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.

Dave deBronkart, widely known as e-Patient Dave, is a cancer patient and blogger who has become a noted activist for healthcare transformation through participatory medicine and personal health data rights. Diagnosed in 2007 with Stage IV kidney cancer, with a median survival of just 24 weeks, he used the internet in every way to partner with his care team and beat this unbeatable disease. Today he is well and is the leading spokesman for patient engagement, attending over 150 conferences and policy meetings internationally in the past two years. He serves as volunteer co-chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and on the advisory boards of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Webicina, and Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. He has appeared in Time, US News, Wired, MIT Technology Review, The British Medical Journal, and in 2009 HealthLeaders magazine named him to its “20 People Who Make Health Care Better.”

In announcing this certification initiative, Happtique President Corey Ackerman said, “With more than 20,000 healthcare apps in the marketplace – and more coming out every day –healthcare organizations and professionals are expressing the need for a bona fide mhealth app certification program. We are very pleased that these distinguished individuals have agreed to serve on our Blue Ribbon Panel to oversee the development of our certification program. Collectively, they bring a multi-disciplinary perspective along with clinical backgrounds and critical expertise in social media, mhealth technology, healthcare accreditation and certification programs, and patient engagement. Drawing upon our Panel members’ expertise and applying principles from the healthcare industry’s well-established protocols for accreditation and certification, we are confident that Happtique will develop a certification program that addresses the industry’s growing need in this area.”

Organizations that are interested in collaborating on the development of standards for apps of specific interest to them (e.g., clinical specialty societies and national health care associations) should contact Corey Ackerman, President, at (212) 259-0715 or email ackerman@happtique.com.

ABOUT HAPPTIQUE:

Happtique is the first mobile application store developed by healthcare professionals, for healthcare professionals. Happtique offers healthcare enterprises—like hospitals, continuing care facilities, and physician practices—the ability to create individually branded, secure, multi-platform app stores that support employee and patient mobile technology use. Happtique is a subsidiary of GNYHA Ventures, Inc., the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

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