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Prognosis for medical apps is guarded

Brian Proffitt | Sept. 3, 2012
In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the humanoid crew members of the Enterprise wore little boxes near the waistlines of their pajama-like uniforms. While their purpose wasn't explained in the film's dialogue, these were supposed to be medical telemetry devices that would periodically scan each crew member and report back to sickbay if something were remiss.

It was this pain point that led Thott to begin working with a team of software engineers to build iRounds. It's this kind of need that Thott believes will continue to drive innovation in the medical app sector. It's not that apps should be built without thought about patient care or the app's practicality; Thott just believes that, as practitioners, health care providers should be able to figure out how apps will work best for them.

"Eventually the market will dictate what's successful and what's not," Thott emphasized.

Filling the prescription

Ultimately, it may come down to a balance between these disparate views.

One solution that Reed points out is something like the Aetna-sponsored Happtique, which is essentially an app store environment that curates the best apps for doctors and patients.

In this kind of scenario, applications are screened and filtered by peers and an insurance provider to ensure quality, without government regulations. Reed sees solutions like Happtique as portals where doctors could trust an app well enough to actually prescribe it for patient use.

"This would be a really revolutionary way of dealing with apps," Reed said. Delivery of apps in this nature would ensure better app quality and keep the doctor aware of what apps the patient was using to improve their health.

Whether public or privately regulated, it's clear that some sort of management of medical apps is coming soon. But is it too late to regulate such an exploding industry?

That's a diagnosis that may have to wait.


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