Mobile App Challenge: Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color

The following message was released on August 24, 2012 from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The news release can be found here.

New challenge calls on software developers to create app for women’s health

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color App Challenge. The Challenge calls on entrepreneurs to create an application for mobile devices that can help underserved and minority women fight and prevent cancer. The challenge is a first-of-its-kind effort to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.

HHS is particularly focused on reaching women who might not connect with traditional media sources, especially women of color, and their caregivers. Successful apps will be available to women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

“It’s important for women to have information about what they can do to prevent or treat cancer,” said David R. Hunt, M.D., F.A.C.S., a medical director in the HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). “Through the use of smartphone and computer apps, women and the community health workers on whom they depend for health care information will be able to have information they need – and in many cases, at their fingertips.”

More than 300,000 new cases of breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. While the incidence and prevalence of these cancers are widespread, disparities in prevention, early treatment, quality of care, and outcomes result in a higher prevalence and mortality rates among minority and underserved women.

“This app challenge is an example of our work to reduce health disparities, building on the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities,” said J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., acting deputy assistant secretary for minority health. “By providing the right information at the right time, mobile apps can help minority and underserved women make informed decisions about their own health and benefit from the recommended preventive services provided at no cost under the health care law.”

The challenge being issued today is a multidisciplinary call to software application innovators and developers to create an app that provides information directly to women at a high risk of breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancers or women who already have been diagnosed with these cancers. The app must be able to communicate with electronic health records used by their health care providers and other members of their health care teams, and protect patient privacy.

The winning app will:

  • Provide users with general, accessible information about preventive and screening services for breast and gynecologic cancers – in different languages and in culturally appropriate contexts;
  • Communicate with patient health records or provider-sponsored patient portals in a secure way that protects patient privacy and that will provide specific reminders and trigger electronic health record-based clinical decision support about preventive services;
  • Support the secure storage, viewing, and the exchange of complex patient care plans in a way that protects patient privacy while strengthening communications between a patient’s care team that may be located across a large geographic area, such as a local clinician being able to work with a regional cancer center in a major metropolitan area; and
  • Support patient engagement and caregiver support by helping patients and their caregivers keep track of complex care plans with a particular emphasis on connections to community health workers, such as promotores de salud.

The Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color App Challenge is a partnership between ONC and the HHS Office of Minority Health. The app challenge is also part of ONC’s Investing in Innovation (i2) Initiative, which holds competitions to accelerate development and adoption of technology solutions that enhance quality and outcomes.

The winning app will be judged on its effectiveness in providing relevant and compelling content that can be acted upon by the target audience.

The first place winner will receive $85,000. The second place prize will be $10,000 and third prize will be $5,000.

More information about the challenge can be found here.