CHICAGO – The American Medical Association recently released guidance on the safe and effective use of mobile health applications and other digital health devices. In a space that some in the industry are seeing as the “Wild West,” guidance on home health technology is necessary and timely, experts say.
“I think it’s exactly right,” said Dr. Joe Smith, CEO of Reflexion Health, makers of the VERA virtual exercise rehabilitation assistant. “The guidelines are pretty much on target.”
In a report presented at its 2016 Annual Meeting in October, the AMA recommends that mobile and digital health technology should, for example, support the establishment or continuation of a valid patient-physician relationship; have a high-quality clinical evidence base to support their use to ensure mHealth app safety and effectiveness; and follow evidence-based practice guidelines.
“I’m applauding all of it,” said Sam Zamarripa, president/director of Intent Solutions, maker of the TAD medication dispenser. “This industry is the future of health care and a social work approach is the right approach. It’s good; it’s an overdue step.”
While the AMA recognizes that “digital health has the potential to be integrated into everyday practice to promote improved patient health outcomes, support care coordination and improve communication,” it said in its report that there is a “need to balance these innovations with appropriate industry standards for mHealth apps and U.S. Food and Drug Administration of mobile medical devices.”
Smith believes that busy home health care workers are faced with a deluge of data and clinical information from home health devices on a daily basis. The AMA guidance, he said, will help them make better decisions about what tools they will use to find actionable data.
“We’re going to be asking more and more of technology to not only report data, but also put it into context,” he said. “The pressures on home health agencies are significant. Guidelines and safety measures now will help us all do better as an ecosystem as we begin to understand all of this.”
The AMA also recommends that mobile and digital health technology should: support care delivery that is patient-centered, promote care coordination and facilitate team-based communication; support data portability and interoperability to promote care coordination through medical home and accountable care models; abide by state licensure laws and state medical practice laws and requirements; require that physicians and other health practitioners delivering services through the app be licensed in the state where the patient receives services; and ensure that the delivery of any services via the app be consistent with the state scope of practice laws.