Happtique tests, certifies inaugural class of mHealth apps

New York-based mobile healthcare provider Happtique announced that it has certified 19 health and medical apps submitted by developers through its Health App Certification Program (HACP), in what the company calls a "first-of-its-kind program to test app privacy, security, and content."

In late February, Happtique published final standards for its mHealth application certification program that the company hoped would serve as a "good housekeeping seal of approval" for mobile healthcare apps. Happtique's HACP is designed to evaluate and certify mHealth apps against final standards which are grouped into four categories: operability, privacy, security and content.

"This inaugural class is the first group of apps in the country to pass the rigorous HACP standards announced earlier this year," states the company announcement. "Each app that receives certification has passed both technical testing--the verification of privacy, security, and operability standards by global testing leader Intertek--and content testing, as completed by relevant, independent clinical experts."

Happtique announced that it certified 19 apps. However, the company's registry of the inaugural class only includes 18 apps--seven Android and 11 iOS--apparently missing one. Regardless, Happtique said that all apps submitted for HACP testing included their privacy policies, proof of FDA approval (if applicable), and documentation of content sources. 

"After passing technical testing, the apps are submitted for content review, which is conducted by independent, licensed experts," according to the announcement. "To maintain objectivity, Happtique requires reviewers to disclose potential conflicts and will reassign apps as necessary."  

A recent report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics analyzed more than 43,000 healthcare apps available on iTunes and found that the vast majority have limited use and simple functionality, with most apps doing little more than providing information. The report also revealed a lack of evidence of the clinical benefits of the apps, without which app use will not be able to move from "a novelty into the mainstream of healthcare" nor realize its full potential.

"With more than 40,000 apps in the marketplace, mHealth remains the one area of healthcare that is largely unregulated and untested," states the Happtique announcement. "Operating as a complement to FDA oversight, the HACP provides the market with a means to self-regulate, raising the bar for all developers while increasing consumer and provider confidence in this rapidly growing industry."

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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