Seeking Patient Engagement, Payer Curates Mobile Apps

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , July 9, 2013

But once you wander into medication adherence and the like, you're entering the FDA's territory. That's why we'll be hearing more and more about the connection between devices, apps, and patient safety. Just recently, it was noted that Apple continues to crack down on medication dosage apps listed in its App Store.

So Aetna, other insurance companies, and providers aren't the only ones trying to curate health apps—app vendors are getting into the act as well.

At some point, however, CarePass, iTriage, and consumer wellness devices start to become part of a complete healthcare picture, but without some of the traditional guidelines that the FDA has imposed upon medical devices. Part of the challenge is that various transient readings from devices can be indicators of more serious conditions, and yet there are no guidelines that the apps being fed data by these devices aren't summarizing or averaging such data. If such summarizing or averaging does occur, telltale signs of undetected disease might be missed.

Wofford realizes the challenges ahead, and in fact, notes that CarePass comes with a set of disclaimers about not allowing it to act as a substitute for a doctor's care.

"What we'll implement is the ability to a consumer to at a summary level to share information back with their doctor, to say, look, you told me to get in a healthier lifestyle, and here's the data to show it," Wofford says. "That's fine, but as we get into more clinical uses of data into the workflow, that's where I think you end up crossing that line into more of the FDA space. We'll have decisions to make in the future about how far do you go."

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