ONC calls on developers to use TXT4Tots library for new apps

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service's Health Resources and Services Administration, recently launched a developer challenge to create apps using the new TXT4Tots message library, according to an ONC blog post.

The Apps4Tots Health Challenge calls on developers, researchers, and innovators to use the new TXT4Tots message library and to integrate it into new or existing apps. The TXT4Tots library houses approximately 250 short, evidence-based messages for parents and caregivers of children aged one to five. Available in both English and Spanish, the TXT4Tots messages focus on nutrition, healthy eating and physical activity.

"While the goal of this app challenge is to integrate the TXT4Tots library and messaging functions into existing or entirely new applications, we aren't looking for a typical smart phone application," states the ONC blog. "We want to see how the parenting advice content in the TXT4Tots library can be integrated innovatively to reach users." 

For the app challenge, the Application Programming Interface (API)-enabled TXT4Tots library has been made available and the development and use of these APIs has been prioritized to help in building software applications. "As many developers know, APIs make it easier for data to be accessed, updated and used," as stated in the blog, and "by enabling automatic content updates, the actual person-hours spent manually updating content can be markedly reduced."

A total of $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to the top three winners, including $17,500 for the first-place finisher. The winner of the Apps4Tots Health Challenge will be announced at Health Datapalooza IV on June 3-4 in Washington, D.C.

"A submission that only delivers the TXT4Tots messages is not enough to win the challenge," according to the ONC blog. "A winning application must be able to distribute messages to a wide audience along with other functionalities that make it indispensable to parents and caregivers of young children."

In January, HRSA requested information from the public on how to best disseminate and apply TXT4Tots. HRSA's goal is to "ensure that the TXT4Tots library of messages remains publicly available at no cost for noncommercial purposes," according to their request for information in the Federal Register.

In 2010, HRSA provided funding to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to develop the library of age-appropriate messages for parents and caregivers based on AAP's Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents.

To learn more:
- read the ONC announcement