App challenge winners help to improve patient compliance

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services handed out blue ribbons and some cash to a series of recent app challenge winners for products that can help users improve their diet compliance, boost their engagement with treatment plans, and even find one another during an emergency.

Here are the highlights:

1. CardioEngagement Challenge ($100,000): Sensei Corp. won this challenge with its Wellness Plus app. The app asks users to input data on their weight, exercise, diet and other factors, and in return, sends users helpful tips and tools to stay on target for better health, according to an article in Healthcare IT News.

For example, Sensei's demo shows a user being reminded to have a particular meal for lunch. The user was in an airport, however, and used the software's 'replace meal' and 'at airport' functions to find a meal that would approximate the one recommended, the story explains.

"The innovation was finding a healthy meal in an airport," Robert Schwarzberg, CEO of Sensei said. But he added that "the application demonstrates the value of a nudge."

2. popHealth Challenge ($75,000): HHS chose popHealth Engage Your PatiEnts (or popEYE) application, an electronic health record tool that physicians can use to generate automatic reminders to patients about needed healthcare treatments or tasks. The challenge required developers to use the popHealth platform to create an app that would engage patients in their own health care, according to iHealthBeat.

3. ASPR Facebook Lifeline App Challenge ($10,000): HHS sought apps that would help users get support from their friends and family during an emergency, and particularly wanted the software ready for this year's hurricane season.

The winning app, called Lifeline, came from students at Brown University, Rhode Island (LifeLine app). Runners up include a team of students from Las Vegas with the app JAIMIC 360, and a group from the University of Illinois, who created AreYouOK?

The apps all help users establish social network connections before a crisis event, and then check on one another, find each other, and offer shelter or support. They also allow the friends or family who are the users' "lifelines" to communicate amongst themselves to find a user who appears to be missing, or cannot be contacted.

To learn more:
- read the iHealthBeat story
- check out Healthcare IT News' coverage
- get more detail from the HHS announcement