App Curation and Prescription Services for Providers
While PsyberGuide is intended to be a service that gives information about apps and software marketed directly to consumers, there is a growing trend in the industry to develop “curation services” for providers or health care systems. In these systems, apps are evaluated or rated and providers that sign up for the service can e-prescibe products to their patients. Two of these services are:
AppScript was developed by IMS Health, which is a very large (15,000 employees), publicly traded, healthcare consulting company based in Danbury Connecticut. AppScript claims to have evaluated more than 40,000 health care apps with a proprietary evaluation procedure. AppScript allows providers to register for their platform, and after reviewing products, prescribe them to patients by e-mail. The site contains apps for a variety of medical conditions. There is a specific category for Depression, which contains 8 rated apps, and a category called Mental Health and Behavioral Disorders, which contains 12 rated apps. Of the 8 apps for Depression, 6 have also been evaluated on PsyberGuide, and there appears to be general agreement between the two sites’ ratings. The remaining 2 apps in the Depression section are rating scales based on the Geriatric Depression Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory, and these are therefore are not self-directed treatment apps. Of the 12 apps in the Mental Health and Behavioral Disorders Category, only 1 of the products has also been evaluated on PsyberGuide. The AppScript site gives a detailed description of the apps including information on the manufacturer and cost. There does not yet appear to be significant data published on the site from patient and peer ratings. I found the site clever, attractive and easy to use and no fee was required for me to sign up.
SocialWellth is a private company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of SocialWellth’s main investors is Cigna Corporation, the large health insurance company. In December 2014, SocialWellth acquired Happtique, which was started by the Greater New York Hospital Association, and which provided the basis for their healthcare app evaluation platform called mWellth. Apps are screened for functionality, consumer appeal and usability. Apps are then further evaluated for privacy and security issues, such as malware and encryption problems. Finally, an in-depth certification review is performed which includes assessments of research foundation, usability, and self-management capability. About 500 apps have been evaluated in this way. When providers use mWellth, they are able to log in, select a patient from an electronic database, and add a prescription for an app. The patient then receives an SMS message with a link to the app, and after using it, further data regarding patient use of the app are shared with the prescriber. As of this writing, I was not able to determine how to set up an account with SocialWellth, to examine the number of apps that might be relevant for mental illness, or if there was a fee associated with the service.