AMA CEO: Docs must get more involved with mHealth apps

Doctor typing on laptop
AMA CEO James Madara says mHealth apps need to be evidence-based and reliable.

The CEO of the American Medical Association (AMA) is urging physicians to take on a greater role in mHealth app development and use in an effort to ensure there are reliable, evidence-based apps available to patients.

Although most physicians are enthusiastic about the potential for mHealth apps to improve patient outcomes, AMA CEO James Madara told The Bio Report that more widespread physician involvement in mHealth development will ensure apps are clinically reliable and patient-focused.

picture of James Madara
James Madara

Referencing a recent Health Affairs study that found mHealth apps were often ineffective, Madara highlighted the AMA’s recently adopted principles aimed at improving mobile apps.

“The digital future is really positive for patients and positive for physicians, but it has to roll out with products that are evidence-based, reliable, validated, actionable and connected,” he said. 

Madara previously said the medical community must separate "digital snake oil from the useful" when it comes to digital tools, sparking a broader discussion about the mHealth industry. 

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He warned the physician community not to make the same mistake it did with EHRs, noting that physicians “should have been more forceful in their participation” during the initial stages of EHR development to ensure developers focused on clinical data extraction. Beyond reliability, Madara said mHealth developers need to focus on data security, particularly within apps that share patient information.

On Tuesday, AMA was one of four groups—along with the American Heart Association, HIMSS, and DHX Group—to announce a new collaboration called Xcertia designed to improve the safety, quality and effectiveness of mHealth apps. The group said it is open to a broad representation of stakeholders and seeks to develop a “framework of principles” for new mobile apps.

AMA leadership has previously pushed for more physician engagement, urging physicians to adopt new technology as part of a balancing act. Hospital leaders have also said physicians need to play a more active role in educating patients about mHealth apps and identifying apps that can improve physician-patient communication.