HHS Uses Crowdsourcing in Booming mHealth Industry

The mobile health (mHealth) market is projected to become a $50 billion industry by 2020, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been actively contributing to the rise of the mHealth applications. The agency uses public prize competitions like the recent “Game On: HIV/STD Prevention Mobile Application Video Game Challenge” to crowdsource a variety of health apps for the public in addition to creating mHealth apps in-house.

“Mobile health” is a broad term encompassing healthcare and medical technologies accessible by mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The recent report by GrandView Research cites the proliferation of smartphones, easy accessibility, and the low cost of mHealth technologies to the consumer as main drivers behind the projected industry boom.

North America is currently the largest mHealth market, and monitoring services are the most prominent segment in the industry.

HHS has been among the most active federal agencies on Challenge.gov since its launch over three years ago, and has run numerous challenges asking the public to create mobile applications to better deliver health data, monitor health conditions, and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The agency partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and asked solvers to use mobile devices to link air quality and physiological data in the “My Air, My Health” challenge, attracting over 500 registered solvers. The winning team, “Conscious Clothing”, created wearable air quality sensors that linked to mobile devices to display pollution levels with users’ breathing (see video below).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPvyIXdkc4g&w=600]

The “Apps4Tots Health Challenge” asked solvers to integrate information from healthdata.gov and an existing program that provided nutritional information for children aged 1-5 into a mobile app for children’s health. The winning solution, “myfamily”, is an app for family health planning. It sends periodic messages with healthy tips and also contains a pediatric vaccine schedule, among other features.

With various challenges open to the public and other apps being created by the agency, it is safe to say that HHS has established itself as a leading source for health applications in the growing mHealth industry.

Other HHS mobile health-related challenges include, but aren’t limited to:

For a complete listing of the HHS software/apps challenges, filter by agency and challenge type on Challenge.gov. Also, visit the USA.gov Mobile Apps Gallery to see federal health-related apps.

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