The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced a new challenge centered on privacy & health apps with a grand prize of $20,000.

The aim is for developers to create a Model Privacy Notice for digital companies and medical app creators help consumers learn about how their personal data is used. The contest is called the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge and will coordinate with the private sector to create this “snapshot” of model privacy practices for digital health products.

Health apps don’t have a good track record when it comes to disclosing what they do with user information. A 2015 study looking at top health apps found that 70% lacked a privacy policy. The results aren’t much better in a 2016 study focused on diabetes apps either. While there is some privacy guidance for developers out there, it often fails to address one key factor – how to make sure the user understands the privacy disclosure so they can make an educated decision on health app use.

As described in a press release, a Model Privacy Notice is:

“…voluntary, openly available resource to help health technology developers who collect digital health data clearly convey information about their privacy policies to their users. Similar to a
nutritional label, the MPN provides a snapshot of a company’s existing privacy and security policies to encourage transparency and help consumers make informed choices when selecting products. The MPN does not mandate specific policies or substitute for more comprehensive or detailed privacy policies.”

Submissions of MPNs should be open-source and assist health tech developers with quickly producing privacy notices for their consumers that adhere to MPN content.

Applicants for the contest will have to adhere to strict judging criteria, including the use of MPN content accurate including using a “flexible language,” best practice adherence in online content development, the design must be visually appealing and engaging, and customization and ease of use are of the utmost importance to the judges.

Those developers looking to vie for the prize have until April 10, 2017. There’s more information at HHS website.

Source: ONC