Exclusive: Happtique refocuses on hospitals, CEO Ben Chodor resigns

By Brian Dolan
05:00 am

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsHapptique, a high-profile subsidiary of the Greater New York Hospital Association's for-profit arm GNYHA Ventures, has had a rocky few weeks.

The association recently made the decision to re-focus Happtique just on hospital customers and strip upwards of $1 million out of Happtique's budget. The contentious decision led to the resignation of Happtique's CEO Ben Chodor, MobiHealthNews has learned, as well as other key players exiting the company. Chodor is still listed as a co-founder of Happtique on the company's website, but since at least last week GNYHA Venture's top executive Lee Perlman has been listed as Happtique's new CEO. Perlman previously held that title prior to Chodor's appointment in early 2012.

UPDATE: Brian Conway, SVP of Communications, GNYHA sent MobiHealthNews a statement in response to this morning's report: “Happtique has not had a $1 million budget reduction, nor anything close to it. We have instead repurposed our budget in the short term, and are in fact expanding in areas such as software engineering and clinical resources. Further, Ben Chodor is still deeply involved in the company and has transitioned to a role focused more on Happtique’s strategic growth and less on day-to-day management. As for Happtique’s focus, it has always been primarily on hospitals, but we continue to actively explore other key mHealth sectors. And as for certification and mRx, both are 100 percent on track.”

Originally, Happtique was conceived as a healthcare-focused appstore for professional medical apps that sought to help solve the enterprise app distribution problem for healthcare facilities. Namely, Apple has not historically made it easy for businesses to distribute an app to all of its employees -- instead each user has had to download a given app individually. Next, the Happtique team said it received feedback from its customers that healthcare providers wanted guidance about which apps were worthy of distribution -- the healthcare enterprise craved curation. Of course, health apps in general are in need of curation and the concept of physicians prescribing health apps to patients dovetailed nicely with Happtique's hospital distribution and curation mandate. In January 2012 Happtique saw a wide open opportunity to create an app certification program that would help all healthcare providers better determine which apps were worth prescribing to patients and -- more generally -- which apps consumers should view as clinically appropriate and technically sound.

Given Happtique's parent association's focus, the subsidiary's interest in serving hospital customers is core to its business moving forward. It is unclear, however, how dramatically Happtique's strategy will change in the near term.

One of the other key executives who has left Happtique as part of the refocusing and budget cut is Lois Drapin, the company's former Chief Verticals Officer. Drapin was tasked with leading business development for Happtique's non-hospital sectors, including pharma companies, health plans, and other big technology companies, according to her bio.

Whether the for-profit arm of a hospital association was the right group to help consumers decide which health apps were worth downloading remains an open question. Assumedly Happtique's focus on its hospital customers means it will continue to build out a library of health and medical apps intended for use by healthcare professionals. What about its certification program for apps that physicians might consider prescribing to patients? What about Happtique's mRx app prescription platform?

I've reached out to the company and will follow-up with additional details as we learn more.

Update #1: MobiHealthNews has just confirmed that Happtique's Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Tammy Lewis, who previously served as CMO of Surescripts, left the company shortly after the launch of its final guidelines for its Health App Certification program. Chodor, Drapin, and Lewis led the company along with longtime GNYHA employee Corey Ackerman who continues to serve as Happtique's President and COO.

Update #2: A few readers with ties to the company tell MobiHealthNews that Happtique was seeking outside investment from venture capital firms but after reviewing term sheets, GNYHA decided against giving up any ownership in the company.

Update #3: GNYHA sent MobiHealthNews a statement on today's news -- included up top.


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