Collegiate contest offers $10K prize for best mobile health app

The Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering have announced their second annual contest to spur health IT innovations by college students.

The "Go Viral to Improve Health" contest will award a top prize of $10,000--provided by the Heritage Provider Network in southern California--to the best health-related application created by undergraduate or graduate students. The prize-winning team will have an opportunity to demonstrate his or her app at the third Health Data Initiative Forum in Washington, D.C., June 5-6. The second and third prize winners will take home $5,000 and $3,000, respectively, and will also be able to demonstrate their inventions at the forum, known as "Datapalooza."

The teams must consist of two to five members. They must include at least one student in a health-related field and another student pursuing a degree in computer science, engineering or a similar field. Their apps must use data from the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Indicators Warehouse, although the students are encouraged to use data from other sources as well. The overall goal is to show how social networks, mobile apps and other new types of information technology can improve the health of communities.

Teams must be registered by Feb. 10, and they have until March 28 to submit their creations. Entries will be assessed on design, usability and how well they integrate public health data. 

Expert judges include Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science, University of California, Los Angeles; Reena Singhal Lee, senior technical manager, Google; Richard Merkin, president and CEO, Heritage Provider Network; Todd Park, chief technology officer, HHS; and Barbara Rimer, dean and alumni distinguished professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted the benefits of mobile apps at last month's mHealth Summit. Federal agencies have taken the lead on several mHealth initiatives, she noted, including apps to discourage teen smoking and provide tips to pregnant women.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- see the Healthcare IT News story

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