There are currently 100,000 downloadable health-oriented apps available worldwide, so choosing the best one can be a somewhat arduous task. Now French startup dmd Santé has launched a website designed to help people choose, by providing appraisals and recommendations for mobile health apps.
The m-health market is booming, and its total value is forecast to reach over $25 billion by 2017. This is creating great expectations of such applications, among both healthcare professionals and the general public. Léo Maury, co-founder and Head of IT systems at dmd Santé (French abbreviation for ‘remote medical request- Health), reports that 53% of all mobile device users in France have already downloaded at least one medical app. That adds up to seven million French people, i.e. one in ten of those aged 18 and over. However, despite strong interest in m-health, French patients (and medical practitioners) are still rather wary of these apps. The launch of dmd Santé’s assessment and recommendation platform is intended to bring some clarity to an uncertain situation.
Building trust in e-health
In the United States, 89% of all doctors are happy to recommend health apps. In France, however, only 8% of doctors are prepared to do so. “We need to build trust in mobile health,” stresses Guillaume Marchand, co-founder and CEO of dmd Santé. Indeed, 54.55% of French people say they would use an m-health app if it had been assessed by a healthcare professional. The appraisals posted on the dmd Santé platform are therefore carried out by both patients and healthcare practitioners. The platform provides a checklist for apps, based on thirteen criteria – nine objective and four subjective – on which the app is judged. If an app obtains a final mark of 16/20 or better, it will be automatically recommended to the public. At the present time, around 150 applications designed for professional use and 80 apps for the use of the general public have been assessed. “We aim to assess all the health apps on offer in France by the end of October,” explains Dr Nicolas Laferre, the third co-founder who is the company’s Medical Director, pointing out that although another fifteen m-health apps appear in the App Store every day, this number drops drastically when you categorise them.
Offering beta testing
The young company sees its service as a ‘mobile health GPS’, helping to orient both users and developers. The dmd Santé business model is based on offering beta testing to application developers. Explains Guillaume Marchand: “Our objective is to help people develop good applications, so that they get good marks, and that means on the App Store too. Long term we hope to encourage applications developers to set up a qualified medical backup system.” But the objective is not to push people towards self-medication. “We’re technophiles, we’re passionate about digital. M-health is an opportunity and we want to promote it among our fellow medical professionals,” underlines Guillaume Marchand. By September, dmd Santé plans to begin assessments of connected devices marketed to healthcare professionals. A project to introduce labelling for m-health apps recommended by the site is also underway. The next step the three founders envisage is the creation of ‘Mobile Health Awards’, beginning in January 2014.