Healthcare apps play an important role in telehealth – enabling patients to be more proactive in monitoring their health and wellbeing. Such apps continue to swell in numbers raising concerns about their safety and effectiveness.
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To ensure that patients are using ‘the best health apps’, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and the U.K. Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) recently formed a partnership to develop a review process and criteria for healthcare apps specifically intended for the U.S. market.
Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, the ATA, welcomed the new partnership noting how the proliferation of health apps has created challenges for both providers and patients to choose the most appropriate and safe apps for monitoring health conditions and personal data collection.
"We are delighted to partner with ORCHA to address this critical need and give both patients and providers greater confidence in selecting safe and effective apps,” Johnson stated. “Chat-based interactions and asynchronous tools are an important component of telehealth offerings and can help ensure that everyone has access to safe, effective, and appropriate care when and where they need it.”
ORCHA makes use of an automated and intelligent review engine for evaluating apps against more than 300 measures, to help healthcare organisations build and manage a health app programme.
“This partnership will enable healthcare providers to better spot the best health apps from the hundreds of thousands available in app stores. It can also arm clinical staff with the software that will enable them to connect the right apps with the right patients at the right time,” according to Liz Ashall Payne, CEO, ORCHA.
Under this initiative, app developers can have their app reviewed against ORCHA's more than 300 quality metrics. Apps passing the assessment will be added to the ATA library of approved apps. Health providers, insurers and employers can utilise this platform to build their own dedicated health app library with safe and effective apps that suit the needs of their patients.
“There are many safe and effective health apps built by U.S. innovation companies that have the potential to help individuals create and sustain healthy habits, monitor health conditions, and share important personal health information with their providers, family members, and caregivers,” said Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, President of the ATA.
However, according to ORCHA, of more than 4,000 health apps currently available in the U.S. that have been evaluated against ORCHA's criteria, only 15% meet quality thresholds. For example, ORCHA has assessed 584 apps intended for use by individuals with mental health conditions and found only 29.6% meet quality thresholds.