Three major provider associations and an advisory firm have committed to developing and promoting best practices for mobile health applications.

The alliance, called Xcertia and operating as a not-for-profit corporation, includes the American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society, and DHX Group, which works with stakeholders to accelerate development of digital health through industry collaboration. The group seeks more participants, including consumers, developers, privacy and security experts, and the academic community, among others.

Xcertia will establish and promote best practices for mobile health app selection to foster use of safe, effective and reputable technologies. HIMSS this week debuted Xcertia at its Connected Health Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md. The alliance expects to publish its first content later in 2017.

“This collaborative effort will incorporate feedback from its members in a consensus-driven process to advance the body of knowledge around clinical content, usability, privacy and security, interoperability and evidence of efficacy,” according to a statement from founding members. “Xcertia will not engage in certifying mobile health apps, but will encourage others to apply its principles and guidelines in the development and curation…of safe and effective mobile health apps.”

The driving force behind the initiative was the desire to expand ongoing efforts to foster safe, effective and reputable health technologies to bring clarity and focus to the marketplace, says Eric Peterson, M.D., chair of the American Heart Association Center for Health Technology and Innovation.

“The American Heart Association has a long history of developing guidelines for the advancement of science and practice, and we will bring an emphasis on evaluation critical to health improvement as well as significant expertise in key health issues in cardiovascular and stroke health and care,” he adds. In particular, the American Heart Association is working to advance and enhance innovative solutions leading to better healthcare tools and health outcomes.

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The AMA was motivated to join Xcertia because its House of Delegates has an established policy for the association to help develop guidance for the mobile space and be part of the digital strategy of the industry, says Michael Hodgkins, MD, the group’s chief medical officer. “Our primary focus is to make it easier for doctors and consumers to pick the right apps.” Those apps, he adds, should be patient-centered, evidence-based and produce actionable information.

Consumers need to ask the right questions about apps before buying them, and app developers should support them and offer answers, the AMA believes. The first job for workgroups will be to look at what types of content already are in the market and incorporate guidelines, Hodgkins says. “This is a void that needs to be filled given growth in the mobile market and a rapid shift to value-based care.”

More information on joining Xcertia is available here.

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