A new collaboration between four healthcare organizations may help users ask better questions about safety, efficacy, privacy and interoperability when they consider purchasing mobile apps.
The new not-for-profit group called Xcertia is a joint venture of the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the DHX Group, a not-for-profit organization that aims to accelerate the development and use of health information innovations, according to its website.
“This collaborative effort will incorporate feedback from its members in a consensus-driven process to advance the body of knowledge around clinical content, usability, privacy and security, interoperability and evidence of efficacy,” said a joint statement from the founding organizations. “Xcertia will not engage in certifying mobile health apps, but will encourage others to apply its principles and guidelines in the development and curation of safe and effective mobile health apps.”
Other organizations have waded into the sea of mobile health technology, trying to impose order. They have failed.
For example, Happtique, the for-profit mobile healthcare applications marketplace initiative launched in 2010 by GNYHA Ventures, the group purchasing arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, flopped after several years.
“In a market defined by a low barrier to entry and minimal startup costs, the reality is that the number of apps will far outpace any centralized evaluation mechanism,” wrote Dr. Satish Misra, in a post mortem of the failed Happtique effort published in the online newsletter iMedicalApps.
But a set of guidelines on what to look for in a good app could be useful for information technology executives charged with anointing his or her healthcare organizations' mobile app selections, according to Dr. William Bria, board chairman of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems.
Bria said he hopes the organizers will first focus on guidelines to ensure safety and sound integration with other HIT systems.
“Automatic, seamless integration, you don't have that,” Bria said. “So, the possible risks of poor integration, or even okay integration, you're talking about people's lives and you could kill them if you screwed it up.”
The guidelines also could be a useful tool when providers are settling turf battles, he said. “All too frequently, it ends up, well, surgery decided this, which didn't align with internal medicine or ambulatory care.”
The Xcertia initiative is open to other organizations in the patient, provider and technology communities, organizers said.