There are over 15,000 medical apps available, many with patient management programs and tools. The mHealth industry is envisioning these apps to become integral parts of healthcare practice, being touted to improve efficiency, decrease medical errors, and improve patient outcomes. If the apps are going to have the opportunity to do all this, certain initiatives need to be undertaken.
Educating both the public and health care providers about the existence, importance, and role of these types of apps and their ‘prescribability’ is necessary for widespread adoption to take place. Awareness campaigns by payers, the industry, telecommunications companies, governmental agencies, and professional health care organizations (medical specialty societies, patient advocacy groups, and non-profits) will undoubtedly contribute to the effort.
Getting the apps to patients and even more importantly, getting the most appropriate apps to patients will be an important goal. Connectivity will initially be an obstacle with some wireless environments. However, open architectures and institutional app ‘stores’ will be common solutions to this problem. Informatics-guided clinical decision tools will recommend personalized app programs (one or a combination of apps) for a given patient. A hospital knowledge officer or the patient’s physician might then oversee and either approve or amend the program before it is prescribed. Technology will allow the provider to electronically prescribe the app as a prescription, much like a medication. The app might be emailed, or delivered in another electronic form. One could also see that an e-prescription of an app would automatically go to the app owner to deliver any necessary hardware to the patient’s home.
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