mHealth: Government Launches $80K Contest For Best Cancer Prevention Mobile App

It was announced recently that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has launched a contest with an $80,000 cash prize to whoever can develop the best consumer mobile application to help prevent and control cancer.

The goal of the contest is to foster mobile innovation in terms of addressing the priorities of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS).  These include “behavior risk reduction for prevention, survivorship (e.g., nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation), early detection and screening, informed decision-making, and adherence to treatment regimens.”

The contest is set to run through August 26th with finalists being chosen on November 18th.  The two development teams chosen as finalists will each receive $20,000 while the four semi-finalists will each get $10,000 for their efforts.  All development teams will be granted access to The National Cancer Institute’s public databases as well as cancer-related data sets from other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

“This challenge will provide useful tools for public health promotion and protection, a key goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” according to ONC’s announcement in the Federal Register.  “Part of the benefit is that as you educate patients more, they understand better the need for some of the preventive types of tests they’re asked to undergo,” said Katherine Virgo, Ph.D.  “If you ask a patient to undergo colonoscopy and they don’t understand the reason, they’re not too apt to go in and take a day off from work, plus do all the prep that’s required. With these apps, you can reach out to people and it’s not overly invasive. It’s something they can access on their own.”