As part of Power Your Practice’s continuing examination of technologies in the mobile health space, we’re conducting interviews with the leaders of some of today’s most influential and innovative mHealth companies.
First up in our mHealth profile series is Happtique, a major newsmaker on the mHealth scene. Happtique – short for “healthcare app boutique” – is a mobile health application store and app management solution for hospitals, physicians and patients.
We interviewed Happtique CEO Ben Chodor about what services the company offers to healthcare providers, how it plans to execute an app certification program, and what mHealth innovations are poised to make the biggest impact on healthcare as a whole.
Happtique is a mobile application management company. What does that mean?
As enterprises continue to expand their use of mobile devices, mass app management and deployment becomes more essential. Healthcare enterprises in particular require not only an easy way to distribute apps, they must also be able to do it in a manner that guards against the disclosure of confidential patient information.
To address this need, Happtique offers healthcare enterprises the ability to create individually branded, secure, multi-platform application stores that support staff and patient mobile technology use. Organizations can stock their stores with apps from our catalog or add their own custom-built apps.
Each store comes equipped with technology to manage and monitor the deployment and use of apps, define app access for individual users, and remotely disable apps if a device is lost or when an employee leaves the organization.
But we are much more than a store—we are the center of the 4 P’s: Providers, Physicians, Patients, and Payers. Happtique’s technology allows these entities to connect and share information with each other in a secure, efficient way.
Why would I buy an app from Happtique rather than from, say, the Apple App Store?
What differentiates Happtique from other app markets is our categorization. There are over 20,000 health apps in Apple’s App Store but they are categorized into just 2 categories—Medical apps and Health & Fitness apps. This broad grouping makes it extremely difficult and time-consuming to find health apps that are genuinely useful.
To make it easier for providers and patients to find the apps they need, Happtique has thus far organized over 10,000 health apps into over 300 professions and clinical topics. Our classification was created by a team of seasoned healthcare professionals. Users no longer have to waste time scrolling through a generic health section, since our app catalog is dedicated to healthcare.
Explain the services you provide to hospitals and medical practices. How do patients access their healthcare provider’s branded Happtique app store?
Happtique offers hospitals and medical practices the ability to create their own customized app store for both staff and patient use.
Patients and staff can access their healthcare provider’s store on their mobile device through a customized app that serves as the portal to the provider’s application store. They simply open the app, login to their account, and download the apps they need. Additionally, custom-designed enterprise apps can be distributed to the appropriate employees without having to make them available on the public market.
We have already successfully deployed app stores for a number of healthcare enterprises across the nation and we expect that number to grow rapidly in the coming months. We believe that patients will go to their providers and physicians for information and health app recommendations. Eventually physicians will be prescribing apps as well–and that’s where we are heading.
What apps (or kinds of apps) do you find to be the most popular for doctors to suggest to their patients? Which apps are being downloaded the most?
According to Float Mobile Learning, 88% of doctors want their patients to monitor their health, especially their weight, blood sugar, and vital signs. They believe that using these apps will help reduce the number of office visits needed by patients. That said, we can expect doctors to recommend apps that have monitoring abilities.
One of the challenges that healthcare providers are facing is how to differentiate between truly helpful apps and ones that are downright dangerous. This issue led us to develop a certification program to help doctors determine which apps they should be recommending.
Patient/consumers are using health apps to gain information. Additionally, they are more likely to use interactive apps that can analyze logged information. Apps with personalized feedback and gaming functions are popular because those components provide motivation for behavioral change.
You’ve announced plans to develop a certification program for apps. What criteria will you evaluate to decide if an app is worthy of certification?
Happtique is in the process of developing the criteria for our App Certification Program.
Some of the things we will be focusing include:
- The source of the app’s content (e.g., clinical/evidence-basis and/or sponsor)
- The extent to which the app does what it’s designed to do
- How well the app functions from a technical perspective (e.g., reliability, usability, malware)
- If relevant, how well the app addresses security and privacy issues
- The value from the end-user perspective (e.g., healthcare professionals, patients)
It’s important for our certification process to be open and transparent. As we proceed, we will solicit feedback on the elements of this program from all participants in the mHealth community.
Mobile health is growing and changing all the time, as new tools, devices and products continue to enter marketplace. What mobile health innovations do you think will be most significant in the coming few years?
We believe that clinically effective apps can—and should—be integrated into treatment plans. Therefore, we are really excited about app prescribing as an emerging innovation. Additionally, we need to be thinking about connected apps and how they are going to play in the healthcare ecosystem. Hopefully, it will lead to patient monitoring and compliance, and, therefore, outcomes.
Do you think mobile health has the power to improve the provider-patient experience?
Of course! mHealth streamlines workflow by allowing healthcare providers to carry their workstations in their pockets. Apps can be used as reference tools, for medical diagnoses, to educate patients, and more. The University of Chicago recently released findings from a study in which 78% of respondents felt that using an iPad resulted in efficiency gains of one hour per day.
From a patient’s perspective, apps allow them to take a more proactive approach to managing their own health. They can use apps to learn about wellness and nutrition, as well as track vital signs, sleeping patterns, and other health data.
Mobile technology also enhances communication between providers/patients and increases interaction between them outside of the medical facility, thus improving the delivery of care. In fact, a remote monitoring program implemented by the Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health Plan showed a 44% reduction on hospital readmissions.
These are but a few examples of how mHealth can improve the experience for both providers and patients alike—the potential is limitless. It’s a very exciting time. We are thrilled and honored to be in the center of this evolving field.