Healthcare Business News

Happtique moves into app testing, certification

By Joseph Conn
Posted: February 27, 2013 - 2:15 pm ET

Happtique, the for-profit mobile healthcare applications marketplace developed by GNYHA Ventures, the group purchasing arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, has released its first set of testing and certification criteria for mobile healthcare apps, the company has announced.

Launched in 2010, Happtique aims to help healthcare providers, patients and consumers wade through a growing tide of mobile healthcare applications, which are now estimated at 40,000 apps across all mobile platforms, and could be as high as 50,000 by the end of the year, according to Ben Chodor, CEO of Happtique.

The newly released standards are available for developers to download at its website. The company will begin accepting candidate applications for testing and certification this spring, Chodor said. Testing and certification should take about 30 days per app, he said. Meanwhile, the company is lining up independent organizations to participate in the testing and certification process.

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According to a news release, testing for technical standards will be conducted by Intertek, a publicly traded, London-based for-profit corporation that provides global testing and certification services across a host of industries, including information technology and healthcare. Those apps that pass muster technically also will be evaluated for their content. So far, the Association of American Medical Colleges will evaluate those with medical education content while CGFNS International, the umbrella organization for the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, will evaluate educational content for mobile nursing applications, according to Happtique.

“We'll be adding other societies and organizations over the next couple of months,” Chodor said. “The goal is, when we're reviewing dermatology apps, they'll be reviewed by dermatologists; when we're doing physical therapy apps, they'll be reviewed by physical therapists. Our goal is by early spring to open up the door for all kinds of apps.”

The mobile app world will be divided initially into two broad camps, applications designed for use by clinicians in one, and applications intended for consumer use in the other, Chodor said. In addition, they'll be categorized and “curated” by function. Thus far, Happtique has identified more than 330 functional categories, and the list is growing, he said. One aim of the company is for clinicians to electronically “prescribe” mobile health applications for their patients from the Happtique marketplace.

Happtique is also developing its own mobile application for use by its customers to access its app store, according to Tammy Lewis, its chief marketing and strategy officer. Lewis said a final price is still being worked out, but Happtique expects the cost to a developer of testing and certification to be “in the area of $3,000,” which will be used in part to pay for the independent testing services “to ensure that they're reviewing the apps in an expeditious fashion.”

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations will pay to be able to use the marketplace and app-prescribing service as well. Charges to healthcare organizations will vary based on the number of clinicians, hospitals, branding and customization of the marketplace to their needs but a “range of $50,000 to $100,000 is probably accurate,” Lewis said.

Brian Dolan covers the mobile health technology arena as the managing editor and co-founder of the website MobiHealthNews.

So far, Dolan said, Happtique is alone in the field attempting to rate mobile health apps. He said he is often asked whether Happtique will become the Consumer Reports for mobile health applications. Dolan said it's important to note that Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization while Happtique is not.

“I'm not saying anything bad about them,” Dolan said, “but the apps that they certify are going into their prescription apps platform.”

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