A system for scoring health apps

From the mHealthNews archive
By Frank Irving

When one of the largest health database companies in the world sees a business opportunity rising up the adoption curve, there's some serious analysis behind it. And that's how IMS Health views the prospect of physicians prescribing mobile apps to patients.

"We're not at the point where the vast majority of hospitals are going to accept this concept because it's not yet common behavior for doctors to think about digital tools to achieve outcomes," Michael Krupnick, director of product management at IMS Health, told mHealth News at the mHealth Summit 2014 here. "So we're making it easier for them to figure out what's good and what's bad," among the more than 125,000 apps available in health, fitness and medical categories in the iOS and Android stores.

IMS Health has created a proprietary app-scoring system based on a composite score that incorporates customer ratings, download volume, functional review, prescribing patterns and engagement metrics.

The free version of the company's Appscript platform contains a curated list of about 100 apps considered by IMS reviewers to be noteworthy. "These are some of the better apps out there," Krupnick said. "Companies are doing interesting and unique things with sensors, for example."

Physicians can sign up to use the platform by providing their email address and National Provider Identifier number. Once registered, they can search apps by disease state or patient condition.

After selecting an app, it takes about 20 seconds to email an electronic prescription to the patient. The recipient retrieves it via unique URL and PIN, and then downloads the app to "fill" the prescription.

An enterprise version, priced according to the number of doctors who will be using it, allows an organization to build its own formulary. Krupnick said one of the largest health systems in the country is currently adopting the enterprise version.

"Games and social media apps have higher retention rates than healthcare apps, and that's a huge issue," Krupnick noted. "We want to facilitate the conversation between physician and patient about whether an app is worth using. We're using technology to supplement that human interaction."