Boston Children's Leads Effort to Create iTunes-Like Store for Health Apps

More than 43,000 healthcare apps are currently available for download in the Apple iTunes store. However, physicians are hesitant to recommend them, the most vulnerable populations (especially patients aged 65 or over) are the least likely to use them and many have very limited functionality, according to a report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

A five-year-old project based at Boston Children's Hospital is seeking to develop an iTunes-like platform for patients to select and download clinical apps, with the ultimate goal of encouraging app development and increasing patient engagement through useful, targeted apps.

The Substitutable Medical Apps & Reusable Technology project received its original funding from the ONC as part of the ONC's efforts to fund projects that remove barriers to health IT adoption.

This week, the project took a step forward with the announcement of an advisory committee to guide the SMART project's technical and business strategies.

"The SMART approach is a breath of fresh air to the world of healthcare IT, which has been historically slow to innovate," Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation expert, business professor at Harvard Business School in Boston and one of the members of the SMART advisory committee, said in the news release. "The time is right to ignite the effort and accelerate the creation of a robust market for app developers that will benefit the healthcare system and the patients it serves."

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