This week the The New York Times delved into a notion -- hard to call it a trend yet -- that has received a lot of ink this year: Physician prescription of mobile health apps.
The report focuses on the Greater New York Hospital Association's subsidiary Happtique, which has slowly and surely developed a healthcare-focused appstore and delivery mechanism, a health app certification program, and a health app prescription platform called mRx.
The New York Times reports: "The company evaluates apps in several areas — diabetes, cardiology, rheumatoid arthritis and physical therapy — and allows doctors to prescribe apps to their patients from selected lists. It monitors whether the patient has downloaded the app, and can send automated reminders to those who have not done so. The company is opening its system to doctors this week."
Happtique is actually just beginning recruitment of physicians to its mRx platform this week to test the system out in a multi-week trial set to begin later this year. Ben Chodor, the company's CEO, tells MobiHealthNews the pilot is just to help the company get an idea as to how many apps physicians prescribe through the platform and how many of their patients actually download the apps as prescribed. It's not an efficacy trial or a clinical trial of any kind, Chodor stressed.
Last September Happtique kicked off a different pilot for its healthcare appstore, which include about a dozen mostly New York-area hospitals. This time Chodor hopes to recruit anywhere from 200 to 400 physicians from across the country to help it test out the mRx platform.
"We want to do for mobile health app prescriptions what SureScripts did for e-prescribing," Chodor said.
As The New York Times reported, Happtique has its critics: Dr. John Moore of the MIT Media Lab’s new media medicine project said that Happtique is ahead of its time since there are so few quality health apps available in the market today.
“Making a clearinghouse for apps today is a tough job because you’re just filtering through a lot of stuff that doesn’t do much,” Moore told The Times.