AMA Approves New Guidelines For Prescribing mHealth Apps

AMA Approves New Guidelines For Prescribing mHealth Apps

The global mhealth market is growing at a significant rate, due to increasing demand for patient centric healthcare models, increasing access of mobile platforms and its potential to improve healthcare cost-efficiency. A recent report on the market estimated that by the end of 2017, mHealth could represent up to $370 Billion in annual healthcare cost savings worldwide.

The market received a fresh boost last week when the American Medical Association (AMA) approved a new set of principles at its 2016 AMA Interim Meeting in Orlando, Florida. Despite reservations in the past, the association now believes mHealth technologies have the potential to be integrated into everyday practice.

The new AMA principles aim to foster the integration of digital health innovations into clinical practice by promoting coverage and payment policies that are contingent upon whether mHealth apps and related devices are evidence-based, validated, interoperable and actionable,” said AMA Immediate Past President Steven J. Stack, M.D.

While championing mHealth’s ability to tackle major challenges faced by the healthcare industry, the AMA were also quick to point out that mHealth apps and devices can vary greatly in functionality, accuracy, safety and effectiveness. According to the new AMA policy, physicians should recommend apps and devices that:

  • Support the establishment or continuation of a valid patient-physician relationship;
  • Have a clinical evidence base to ensure mHealth app safety and effectiveness;
  • Follow evidence-based practice guidelines to ensure patient safety, quality of care, and positive health outcomes;
  • Support care delivery that is patient-centered, promotes care coordination, and facilitates team-based communication; and
  • Support data portability and interoperability in order to promote care coordination through medical home and accountable care models.

The major restraint associated with the growth of the global mHealth market is the lack of data security and privacy. Like any connected devices, mHealth apps and devices can be subject to data breaches that disclose personal health information. The new AMA policy encourages physicians to promote patient awareness of the varying levels data privacy and security afforded by these apps.

To best secure patients’ personal health information, mHealth apps and associated devices, trackers and sensors need to abide by applicable laws addressing the privacy and security. According to the new AMA policy, physicians should consult with qualified legal counsel if they are unsure of whether mHealth apps meet standards required by federal or state privacy and security laws.”

The association said questions remained regarding liability risks to physicians who use, recommend or prescribe mHealth apps. They say they will assess these risks, including risk under federal and state medical liability, privacy, and security laws.

According to their press release, the AMA is partnering with technology companies and healthcare leaders to ensure that physicians concerns are incorporated into the creation process of some mHealth apps. They are working with partners on various projects, including Health2047, MATTER, IDEA labs, SMART project and Omada Health.

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Published by Research and Markets