Cancer Prevention App Contest Offers $80,000 - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

09:48 AM

Cancer Prevention App Contest Offers $80,000

Federal health officials challenge developers to come up with an application that promotes early detection and helps the public reduce risky behavior.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has launched a cash contest to devise the best consumer applications to help prevent and control cancer. "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.

The contest will run through Aug. 26, with the finalists to be selected on Nov. 18. The two finalist development teams will receive $20,000 each, and the four semi-finalists will get $10,000 each.

ONC expects the multidisciplinary teams to create apps that address 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 National Cancer Institute's public databases will be available to the entrants, 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).

Most of the applicable datasets are from consumer surveys used in population research, said Katherine Virgo, Ph.D., managing director, health services research, for the American Cancer Society. These include the National Health Interview Survey, the California Health Interview Survey, and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. In addition, she suggested, development teams could look in the literature for studies of behavior modification methods that have proved effective.

The ONC contest is not the only one to spur development of health-related apps. Virgo recently worked with a tech-savvy student to build a breast cancer app that he entered into a cash contest sponsored by Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston. His program allows patients to measure their cancer risk and to enter data related to their health behavior that goes into their doctor's electronic medical record. (The $5,000 prize went to Polyglot Systems for an app providing multilingual medication instructions.)

The American Cancer Society fully supports these kinds of contests, partly because they have the potential to engage younger people through the technologies they use every day, Virgo said. "Some older people are also using these apps and accessing information through these sources," she added.

"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," she said. "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."

Some apps could also be useful to "cancer survivors"--now defined as anyone who has ever had a diagnosis of cancer. "You want cancer survivors coming back on a regular basis for office visits or chest x-rays or CTs," Virgo pointed out. "You want to remind them of their appointments and have them return often enough so we can identify a recurrence of the cancer early on. Apps could be a nice mechanism for that."

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll