Some smaller developers could be slowed down by new regulations, which can be costly to navigate, said Ben Chodor, chief executive of the medical-app curator Happtique.
But, Chodor added, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Medical apps deal in sensitive information, he said, and FDA input could help with the current "Wild West" app environment. Additional taxes, he said, could simply be the cost of doing business in the field.
"In a lot of ways, it needs an element of regulation," Chodor said. He said he hopes the FDA will take a narrow focus, regulating only those apps that truly turn phones into medical devices. "No one wants to stop innovation," he said. "But we have to know, will this app be safe?"
Other developers are finding other ways to work with medical data, such as striking partnerships with companies that are already regulated. That's the path being taken by Moxie Fit, a Rockville-based company, that has partnered with Aetna on its exercise app.
The partnership allows Moxie Fit to focus on the wellness app, while Aetna shoulders the administrative, logistical, security and financial burdens, said Thomas Wavering, Moxie Fit's senior director of strategic technologies and transitions. "It makes sense for a company like us to partner with Aetna. [They're] a big company, they can handle that. They can do what they do, and we do what we do," he said.
Emi Kolawole contributed to this report.