Training prescribers how to prescribe mHealth apps

Sometime soon your doctor is going to prescribe you a mHealth app for your smartphone. There’s a 1 in 3 chance you already have one on your phone – for tracking calories, weight, exercise, your smoking, your blood sugar or our mood. How will you or your doctor know which is the right app?

 
Well at the moment nobody really knows. Intuitively, tracking your health with apps might help you to achieve your health goals but strictly speaking nobody really has built the evidence-base. In fairness to the evidence builders, the iPhone has only been around for 5 years and “there’s an app for that” was first used on Jan 29, 2009. Preliminary evidence suggests current mHealth apps aren’t really designed for health promoting behaviour change http://www.jmir.org/2012/3/e72/
 
Nonetheless, the market is out there. Happyique is already piloting a portal for app prescriptions…..reimbursement for prescription to follow http://www.happtique.com/mrx/
 
Your doctor hasn’t been trained in health behaviour change – this is a new job for medical school. Standards are needed – Happtique has started this work – they need to be grounded in evidence and sound from the perspective of psychology and behavioural economics.
 
How to move forwards? Teach medical student about behaviour change. Regulate apps according to evidence but with a light touch. Teach consumers to find reputable, independent apps.
 
 

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