How the SMART Platform Is Fostering App Development

A group of physician leaders from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School are spearheading a project to create a platform that will allow for the development and use of health apps across devices or electronic health record systems.

The Substitutable Medical Apps and Reusable Technology platform features an open application programming interface to foster app creation by not requiring developers to have working knowledge or a relationship with the various platforms on which the apps will be run.

"In the iPhone, the library is written by Apple, and that internal code changes, but the commands I call to build apps just pull those changes in without me ever knowing," Justin Cranford, a Raleigh, N.C.-based app developer, told Forbes, in an explanation of how the SMART platform works. "Think about how Tinder pulls in Facebook photos and triangulates your location through the phone."

This means the apps can be run by the end user on a variety of EHR and other IT systems, simplifying the development-to-market process for health apps. "The goal of SMART is audacious and can be expressed concisely: an innovative app developer can write an app once, and expect that it will run anywhere in the healthcare system," said Kenneth D. Mandl, MD, director of the Intelligent Health Laboratory at Boston Children's Hospital and one of the project's leaders, in a statement.

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