ONC launches contest to develop application for the disabled

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) is launching another cash contest to spur innovation in health IT. In this competition, ONC is challenging software development teams to create an app that makes it easy for disabled people to access the data in electronic health records.

ONC official Wil Yu announced the competition on the HealthITBuzz blog.

"Health information technology and EHRs hold great promise in improving the health outcomes and coordination of care for people with disabilities," Yu said. "The accessibility and usability of health IT is a matter of serious concern to people with a wide range of disabilities, including those who have vision, hearing, intellectual, manual dexterity, mental health, developmental and other types of disabilities."

According to the contest rules, the winning application should:

  • Be easy for individuals with disabilities to consume and interact with their health data
  • Be simple to install and learn to use
  • Identify and link to relevant local or online communities and organizations
  • Be able to download data from one or more EHR systems, although it does not need to be fully integrated across all systems

Top prize in the EHR Accessibility Module Challenge is $60,000. The deadline for submissions is July 23, 2012.

In June 2011, ONC announced it would spend $4.9 million to jump-start health IT innovations through contests and prizes. Axial Exchange's Care Transitions Suite won the "Ensuring Safe Transitions From Hospital To Home" mobile app contest as part of that initiative.

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a Healthy New Year Video Challenge in which patients were asked to make videos showing how technology had improved their health. That contest, too, involves a cash prize.

To learn more:
- read the Health IT Buzz blog post
- see the ONC rules for the EHR Accessibility Module Challenge