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HHS Announces Winner of Mobile App Challenge

May 1, 2013
by By Gabriel Pern
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently recognized the developers of an app that aims to help individuals manage their family’s health through customized prevention information for each family member. The app, created the San Carlos, Calif.-based app developer Lyfechannel, is called myfamily. It won the federal government’s healthfinder.gov “Mobile App Challenge,” which challenged developers to design a mobile app that made healthfinder.gov content customizable and easy for prevention care planning.

“This app helps put the power of prevention at the fingertips of Americans,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement “Families can now use healthfinder.gov preventive care information to make informed, personalized health care decisions right from their smart phone.”

The app allows users to find customized prevention information and tips for each member of their family, create personal health alerts, and keep track of medical check-ups and vaccinations. It focuses on the preventive care benefits and services covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The challenge forced developers to work with end-users. From a field of 26, three finalists were selected. Those finalists were judged on usability and design, evidence of co-design, innovative design, functionality and accuracy, and healthfinder.gov branding.

“For the first time during a challenge competition we went to end users during the development of the applications,” Bryan Sivak, CTO of the HHS, said in a statement. “The use of crowdsourcing and feedback loops provided teams with critical information to develop a more useful application– not just another app – but a piece of technology that fulfills the needs of its users and improves health.”

The government has been keen to push these types of challenges to developers in an effort to spur the mobile health (mHealth) app. For instance, in July, HHS announced a mobile app development challenge to help consumers reduce their risk for heart disease by controlling their blood pressure and managing their cholesterol.

Companies have done the same thing. Allscripts is sponsoring a challenge, offering a $250,000 prize to the app developer that best features a usable, innovative, integrated app that can be easily installed and most importantly, provides a positive clinical, financial, or performance improvement impact.

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