Aiming to get "the professional side of things," HealthTap has released dozens of lists ranking the top apps recommended by physicians.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company surveyed more than 65,000 physicians in its network and another 500,000 in its referral network on their recommendations on a wide variety of health and wellness apps. The company then listed the top 100 iOS and Android apps, then broke the recommendations down into roughly 30 lists on more specific categories, like running and diabetes care.
HealthTap founder and CEO Ron Gutman said the company's goal is to give clinicians and consumers a guide to choosing apps that have been approved by doctors, rather than resorting to the user ratings found in app stores (HealthTap's AppRx app, by the way, has a healthy 4.72 star rating in the Apple App Store, he said). The apps are judged on three standards – ease of use, effectiveness and medical accuracy, validity and soundness. They're not given a number rating, but are ranked solely based on how many doctors would recommend them.
More importantly, he said, these are not anonymous rankings.
"We're weighing in on medical validity," he said. "It all boils down to, would you recommend this app or not? Yes or no? Are you going to stand behind it and put your name and reputation behind it?"
With more than 100,000 health and fitness-related apps available to the general public, the market stands as the fastest-growing among all categories of apps – and one with little organization. Federal officials are working on guidelines that would ensure clinical apps are properly regulated, but the vast majority of consumer-facing apps on the market now won't fall under those guidelines.
Still, Gutman said, doctors are prescribing apps to patients in increasing numbers.
"They want to know which apps are good and which aren't," he said. "They're looking for doctors to curate and recommend apps."
The top-rated overall apps contain some familiar names, such as Weight Watchers, the American Red Cross, MyFitnessPal and FitnessKeeper; as well as White Noise Lite, a sleeping app developed in 2008 by TMSoft that consistently ranks at or near the top on the iTunes list; and Instant Heart Rate and Glucose Buddy, two apps developed by Azumio, a Palo Alto-based mHealth company that's well-known in the industry.
The top 10 apps for iOS and Android are ranked on the following page.