The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced its three-part initiative to develop easier to understand consumer and health care provider apps, according to a press release.

As the health IT sector continues to grow, so will the amount of data technology can provide. Health IT technology companies are constantly producing devices that integrate data from various sources, to help people make important health care decisions. Now, HHS wants those companies to design and manufacture more user-friendly health IT devices.

“This strategy will help us reach the consumer and provider-friendly future of health IT we all seek,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, national coordinator for health information technology. “It reflects our guiding principles that consumers and providers should have easy, secure access to health information and the ability to direct that information when and where it is needed most.”

Part of HHS’ strategy will enlist members of the IT development community.

Two software app challenges will award $175,000 to each winner. The first challenge will call on developers to produce a consumer-facing app with standard, open application program interface (API) able to pull user data into one place.

The second challenge also asks contestants to develop a simple-to-use app, with standard, open APIs for health providers. Also, as a part of another competitive funding contest, HHS will offer up to $275,000 to develop an open resource for developers to display, compare, and contrast their apps with one another.

HHS will weave these initiatives into a “larger, community-driven” effort to meet the goals of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap version 1.0, the Interoperability Pledge campaign, and ONC’s Health IT Certification Program.

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MeriTalk Staff