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Creating An App-Panic

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 3.24.09 PM

iMedicalApps.com published an article detailing Apple’s ‘new’ development policy which will reject any app that includes dosing information for a medicine. Normally I wouldn’t comment on an article from another site in this much depth, but given the way headlines suddenly become ‘insights’ in this business, I thought it would be helpful to clarify a few things.

The article starts with an ominous headline “Apple is now rejecting new medical apps that include drug dosages.” Apple is not doing this across the board. One or two devs got rejected. Which by the way, happens all the time, for all kinds of reasons.  The article goes on from there, “It appears that a number of developers have struggled recently to get medical applications into the App Store.” It doesn’t say how many developers or how wide spread the problem is. And, without any kind of context as to what the app was, or any insight into it’s functionality, it’s impossible to draw any conclusion as to why it was rejected. Given the amount of apps currently in the app store that reference dosing information (mostly by manufacturers) I seriously doubt this is a widespread issue.

A simple reading of the actual rejection sent by Apple illustrates where the developer(s?) went wrong.

“We found that the Seller and/or Artist names associated with your app do not reflect the name of the manufacturer of the medicine referenced in your app or its metadata, as required by the iOS Developer Program License Agreement.

Section 1.2: 

“You” and “Your” means and refers to the person(s) or legal entity (whether the company, organization, educational institution, or governmental agency, instrumentality, or department) using the Apple Software or otherwise exercising rights under this Agreement. For the sake of clarity, You may authorize contractors to develop Applications on Your behalf, but any such Applications must be submitted under Your developer account.

We can only accept medical dosage information submitted by the medicine’s manufacturer.

If you have published these apps on behalf of a client, it would be appropriate for your client to enroll in the iOS Developer Program, then add you to their development team so you can develop an app for them to submit under their developer account.”

I actually see this as a good thing for users. First, the developer in the article clearly didn’t follow the metadata practices of Apple’s guidelines, which is a no-no. Apple has been very consistent on making sure apps are what they say they are and aren’t playing games with metadata to boost rankings. Already I’m suspicious of the developer(s?), since they seem to be unwilling to follow or correct this issue now that Apple has pointed out it’s a problem. Second, if you are publishing dosing information and aren’t doing it on behalf of the manufacturer, you may be publishing the wrong information. Since pharma has so many checks and balances on it’s content, Apple can be assured that anything with a manufacturer’s name on it would have the content verified for accuracy.

As part of gathering the info for the Mobile App Wiki, I spent quite a bit of time in the Android store. Let me tell you, it’s hard to know who’s published what. The requirements are very flimsy for publishing an Android app, and I couldn’t tell if an app was legit or not (see the Bob in IT example).  To be clear, Apple is not asking for the content to be verified, but does have some controls to ensure the veracity of content. Given the importance Apple has placed on medical content and audiences, this seems like a logical restriction to ensure quality for it’s users. So if you are developing an app for a pharma client, or doing it in house, you should be fine.

HealthTap Launches ‘AppRx’ – Get App Recommendations From Real Doctors

healthtap-apprx

Via VentureBeat

“AppRx is one of the most important releases in the mobile health revolution,” HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman told VentureBeat via email. “We manage our health and well-being around the clock, and when we need a way to help us engage in our well being … apps are the best engagement solution to complement any health and wellness plan. We see a huge potential in engaging doctors to help people choose the best health and wellness apps for them and integrate mobile apps into the process of providing real reliable and engaging care.”

Anatomical Pinball Table Combines 2 Of My Favorite Things

KidneyBall!

Via Boingboing.net 

Canadian artist Howie Tsui redesigned a pinball machine to turn it into a crude simulation of a musket-ball rattling around a soldier’s guts for a War of 1812-themed exhibition currently running at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre at Queens University in Kingston. It’s meant to demonstrate the way that repetition and concentration can inure you to the horrors of war.

This would have been Awesome+1 if the flippers were leg bones.

FDA’s Latest “Guidance” About Mobile Apps Is Much Ado About Nothing

If you spend any amount of time in this business, you no doubt woke up this morning with your Twitter feed loaded with “What the FDA’s Latest Letter Teaches Us About Mobile” tweets. I did.

Let me boil it down for you. Nothing. It teaches us nothing. No, I take that back. If you happen to be the one person left in the universe that doesn’t understand that in order to market any kind of diagnostic device in the United States, it first must be submitted and gain approval from the FDA, then good news! Today has a teachable moment just for you.

In case you missed it, the FDA issued an “It Has Come To Our Attention” letter to Biosense Technologies Private Limited concerning it’s uChek Urine Analyzer. Apparently, BTPL went to market with a smart phone version of a urine stick analysis tool without running it by the FDA first. Or, as noted in their letter, it may just be that FDA can’t find the paperwork.

“We have conducted a review of our files, and have been unable to identify any Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance number for the uChek Urine analyzer. We request that you provide us with the FDA clearance number for the uChek Urine analyzer. If you do not believe that you are required to obtain FDA clearance for the uChek Urine analyzer, please provide us with the basis for that determination.”

2 things here. First, the reason BTPL got a letter was for (maybe) acting in violation of the rules and guidelines that have existed before smart phone devices began being regulated. The only reason people are posting anything about this is the fact that the words “mobile phone” appear in the letter. Second, you will probably get an email or tweet today that suggests that you need to contact X,Y, or Z person as this “new guidance” should require some great consultation to rethink your mobile strategy. Let me save you some time and suggest that their council will be much ado about nothing as well.