Contest aims to inspire students to create healthcare apps

By Bernie Monegain
09:59 AM

The Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering has launched a contest to spur undergraduate and graduate students to create health-related apps. The prize for the winning team: $10,000.

Students pursuing degrees toward careers in health, engineering and computer science could earn a distinctive addition to their resumes by participating in the "Go Viral to Improve Health" contest, officials say.

The contest is the second annual collegiate challenge designed to inspire students to work in interdisciplinary teams and transform health data into mobile apps, online tools or games, or other innovative products that solve vexing health problems.

There is a total of $18,000 in prizes. The team that designs the best product will receive a $10,000 prize sponsored by Heritage Provider Network and the opportunity to demonstrate their app during the plenary session of Health Datapalooza, the third Health Data Initiative Forum, June 5-6, Washington, D.C.

The second and third place teams will receive awards of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively, and both will have the chance to display their winning technologies in the exhibit hall at Datapalooza, a gathering of software engineers, developers, and health leaders. Teams will be reimbursed up to $1,000 of their travel costs to the forum.

Entries will be assessed on their design, usability, and how well they integrate public health data.  Expert judges include Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science, University of California, Los Angeles; Reena Singhal Lee, senior technical manager, Google; Richard Merkin, president and CEO, Heritage Provider Network; Todd Park, chief technology officer, Department of Health and Human Services; and Barbara Rimer, dean and alumni distinguished professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Participating teams must consist of between two and five members and include at least one undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a health-related degree and one undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in computer science, engineering, or a similar major. Additional team members may come from any program or major. Teams must use data from the Health Indicators Warehouse, a vast collection of health data and indicator sets made available by the Department of Health and Human Services, and are encouraged to use other data sources as well. Additional eligibility criteria and terms are spelled out at

Students must register their teams for the challenge by Feb. 10. Once registered, teams have until noon EST on March 28 to submit their apps. Further details about "Go Viral to Improve Health" can be found at and on Facebook at Questions can be directed to

The Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering along with the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. For more information, visit

Heritage Provider Network, Inc. is one of the largest physicians’ groups in the United States, providing medical care to approximately 700,000 people.