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ONC challenge uses mHealth to reach parents of toddlers

By Jennifer Bresnick

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has announced a new developer challenge to bring useful parenting advice to the moms and dads of toddlers through their smartphones.  The Apps4Tots Health Challenge asks mHealth developers to create new ways of delivering the ONC’s TXT4Tots advice library to parents and caregivers in an engaging, innovative manner.

The TXT4Tots project allows caregivers to receive appointment reminders and parenting advice, including nutrition counseling and physical activity ideas, from research developed by the American Academy for Pediatrics.  The challenge asks developers to integrate these 250 helpful messages, available in English and Spanish, into an mHealth app that engages parents.  The first place winner will receive a $17,500 prize, and will be announced at Health Datapalooza IV in June.

The ONC is looking for more than just an app that lets parents scroll through the messages or delivers the content to parents through text messages or alerts.  “Instead, we are looking to you to use the TXT4Tots library content as part of a larger application, where these messages will augment existing content and provide for a richer application as a result,” explains the challenge website.  The ONC will be offering an API to the data in order to help developers integrate the content in a meaningful way.

For more information on the challenge and to register for the competition, visit the Challenge.gov website here.

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