Representing more than 5,000 app companies and information technology firms, ACT | The App Association is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the intersection of government and the app economy. In addition to drafting best practices, guidelines, and FAQs to help inform app companies about new legal obligations, ACT | The App Association hosts conferences, bootcamps and workshops to provide developers the resources they need to ensure compliance.
As the only organization focused on the needs of small business entrepreneurs from around the world, ACT | The App Association advocates for an environment that inspires and rewards innovation while providing resources to help its members leverage their intellectual assets to raise capital, create jobs, and continue innovating.
Here, Morgan Reed, executive director of the organization, discusses its goals, the app economy, how ACT | The App Association works across mobile health, innovations in the space and what’s likely to come in the year ahead.
What are the biggest barriers to entry for new health IT companies?
We have a “cascading” problem in the mobile health space right now. Regulatory guidance hasn’t kept pace with the rate of innovation, which has led to care providers being worried they will be exposed to liability, or will be providing services that aren’t covered by health plans.
It’s this fear and uncertainty that keeps hospital systems, independent practices, and individuals from adopting new technology, leaving care providers and patients to suffer as we wait for all the pieces to catch up.
What is ACT | The App Association doing to address issues facing mobile health companies?
ACT | The App Association is spearheading an effort to bring updates to outdated health privacy laws with a group we recently launched called the Connected Health Initiative. This coalition of leading mobile health companies and key stakeholders urge Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt policies that encourage mobile health innovation.
How is ACT | The App Association working with Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services to bring clarity to the outdated regulatory environment facing mobile health companies?
Most recently, ACT | The App Association and a number of our member companies, all of which are part of the newly formed Connected Health Initiative, called on Congress to bring much needed updates to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We outlined changes needed from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure HIPAA fits better in today’s mobile world.
Make existing regulation more accessible for tech companies. Information on HIPAA is still mired in a Washington, D.C. mindset that revolves around reading the Federal Register, or hiring expert consultants to ‘explain’ what should be clear in the regulation itself. Not surprisingly, app makers do not find the Federal Register to be an effective resource when developing health apps.
Additionally, there are limited user-friendly resources available for app developers, who are mostly solo inventors or small groups of designers – not large companies with the resources to easily hire counsel or consultants who can help through the regulatory process.
Proposed solution: HHS must provide HIPAA information in a manner that is accessible and useful to the community who needs it. The agency should draft new FAQs that directly address mobile developer concerns.