Feds launch 'Healthy App Challenge'

Surgeon General hopes to encourage development of health apps that spur exercise, healthy eating

The federal government has launched a program to promote private-side development of innovative new applications that promote fitness, nutrition and integrative health.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has partnered with the Surgeon General to launch the Healthy App Challenge, which invites developers to submit health, wellness, and fitness apps.

This developer's challenge is designed to encourage Americans to user of consumer-facing technology to address the nation's fitness problems.

"Consumer electronic health (e-health), new media, and mobile technologies have great potential to connect individuals, including those in underserved and hard-to-reach communities, to health care resources and decision-making supports, enabling healthier lifestyle decisions," the Surgeon General's office said in a statement. "The challenge will highlight a selection of mobile apps in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to empower individuals to make healthy choices using electronic technology."

The government is considering applications in the following categories:

  • Fitness/physical activity, or apps aimed at recruiting people who are not currently regularly exercising.
  • Nutrition/healthy eating, or apps aimed at helping to quickly prepared healthy home meals, to eat out sensibly and to find healthy food when traveling.
  • And integrative health apps that show how to integrate aspects of wellness, such as healthy sleep habits, boosting mental/spiritual health, lifestyle behavior change, social health, family health and community health.

The Surgeon General will use each of the winning applications and publicize her experiences via social media.

Additionally, the winning apps will be featured on the HealthIT.gov and HealthIT.HHS.gov Web sites. The Official Rulesegister rules and registration information is available at the Challenge.gov portal.

Registration is free and can be completed anytime during the Application Submission Period, December 6, 2011, to December 30, 2011.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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