The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation(RWJF) has launched a $100,000  app challenge on Health 2.0 to incentivize developers to create easy-to-use online tools that help consumers find information on the quality of their local physicians and hospitals.

The “Aligning Forces for Quality” challenge is geared toward motivating the development of applications for consumer mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets which allow users to easily access and experience comparative information about the quality of care provided in various regions of the country.

Teams will use data collected as part of RWJF’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, their signature effort to improve the quality of health care in 16 targeted communities nationwide.

This appears similar to the Consumer Reports mobile app we reviewed a few months ago — their Hospital Ratings app empowers consumers by allowing them to compare hospitals on various metrics, such as rate of infections.

Aligning Forces community alliances has already developed publicly available online reports about the quality of care delivered in their local communities, including measures for diabetes care and the safety of local hospitals. Participating developers will help make the consumer experience with these data more dynamic, interactive, and user-friendly than when the information is simply displayed on the website.

“Choosing the right doctor or hospital is one of the most important health care decisions a consumer will make, yet many consumers don’t know where they can find information to help inform their decisions and improve their communications with doctors,” said Michael W. Painter, JD, MD, senior program officer at RWJF. “Using apps to make information more readily available has the power to transform health care.”

The challenge will be conducted in two phases. Phase one is an open challenge for interested developer teams to create and submit new applications using Aligning Forces data. During phase two, developer teams will work with AF4Q communities to further refine their applications with independent judges, including leaders and patients from Aligning Forces communities, selecting the finalists from phase one contestants.

The winning app developer will receive $100K, second place will receive $25K, and third place will be awarded $5K.

Challenge Description

The goals of the Challenge are:

  • Develop an application that helps patients access better health care using publicly available inpatient and outpatient measures of health care quality from the Aligning Forces program.
  • The application should walk patients through the decision making process for accessing inpatient and outpatient health resources in much the same way that TurboTax guides users though the process of submitting a tax filing.
  • Data from the Challenge will come from Aligning Forces program sites and may include measures related to diabetes outcomes, antibiotic use, cancer screening, child health care, prevention, and others.

Judging Criteria

  • Potential impact to improve the quality of care for application users
  • Effective integration of data from Aligning Forces sources into the application
  • Design, usability and intuitiveness of application
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Ability to demonstrate real world impact (Phase 2)

Winners will be announced in June 2012, but final applications for phase one are due December 31, 2011. Developers can learn more by watching the webinar and reading through the presentation slides embedded below and may enter the contest at the Health 2.0 website.