Soon mobile apps may act as medical devices, and be paid for by insurance. Lee H. Perlman, director of Happtique, a subsidiary of the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, is creating a system wherein doctors can prescribe apps as medicine. Currently the company evaluates apps related to diabetes, cardiology, rheumatoid arthritis and physical therapy, and allows doctors to prescribe apps to their patients from a selected lists.
Though many medical professionals see this as a great starting point for more sophisticated software, there are still a range of issues to be worked out. Namely vetting, paying for and monitoring the proper use of such apps. Unlike current apps which are released and bugs fixed as they appear, health related programs must have ensured quality and safety. If a company can convince the F.D.A of their legitimacy and importance, it sends a clear message to investors and will increase the likelihood of future products. The F.D.A. plans to release guidelines later this year outlining its approach to apps, while other agencies will be in charge of privacy and data security.