Happtique, a mobile health app store and vetting service, is launching a pilot program of mRx, its electronic prescription pad that allows practitioners to prescribe apps to their patients.
In calling for provider participation and feedback, company officials said in an announcement that they think app prescribing can facilitate "positive patient behavior change, which will foster self-management and monitoring and ultimately result in improved health outcomes and lowered health care costs."
In a New York Times story noting that issues such as vetting, payment and proper use of apps in healthcare remain to be worked out, Lee H. Perlman, Happtique's managing director likened the benefits of apps to those of pills.
"We're basically saying that pills can also be information, that pills can also be connectivity," Perlman told the Times.
The Happtique pilot will focus particularly on cardiology, rheumatology, endocrinology, orthopedics, physical therapy, and fitness training. Practitioners may prescribe apps from a recommended list, or choose their own. Other licensed or certified healthcare practitioners, such as nurses, dietitians, therapists, also may take part in the pilot. The pilot will focus on practitioner and patient satisfaction with mRx.
Those wishing to participate must fill out and submit an application form. Once approved, participants will be sent a link explaining how to install the mRx app.
The pilot will run through December, starting with practitioner enrollment, then use of mRx and feedback phases.
John Moore, a physician at the M.I.T. Media Lab's new media medicine project, told the Times that he thinks Happtique might be ahead of its time because there are few apps actually worth prescribing.
"Making a clearinghouse for apps today is a tough job because you're just filtering through a lot of stuff that doesn't do much," Moore said."But as a long-term vision, it's an interesting idea."
Happtique in July announced standards it will use to vet apps, focusing on operability, privacy, security and reliability of content.