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RWJF Announces Developer Challenge

November 2, 2011

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced an Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) $100,000 “app challenge”competition for technology developers to create online tools that help consumers find information on the quality of their local physicians and hospitals.

In the RWJF Aligning Forces app challenge, competing developers will create applications for various devices including smartphones or iPads for consumers to  access and experience comparative information about the quality of care provided in various regions of the country.

Data for the app will come from RWJF’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, the Foundation’s quality improvement initiative of health care in 16 targeted communities.

Aligning Forces communities have already developed publicly available online reports that provide information about the quality of care delivered in their local communities. Reports include quality measures for care delivered for conditions such as diabetes—such as whether patients were given the tests and procedures that medical evidence shows are best for their condition—and the safety of local hospitals. Participating developers will help the consumer experience with making existing data more dynamic, interactive and consumer-friendly than when information is simply displayed on a website.

Numerous surveys show that people are uncertain about the quality of the care they receive and increasingly seek health information online to support their medical decision-making. In a poll RWJF commissioned Harvard’s School of Public Health to conduct in April, 55 percent of Americans barely gave the quality of American health care a passing grade—a C or D on a standard report card scale.

“Choosing the right doctor or hospital is one of the most important health care decisions a consumer will make, yet many consumers don’t know where they can find information to help inform their decisions and improve their communications with doctors,” said Michael W. Painter, JD, MD, senior program officer at RWJF. “Using apps to make information more readily available has the power to transform health care.”

The Aligning Forces app challenge will be conducted in two phases. Phase one is an open challenge for interested developers and teams to create and submit new applications using Aligning Forces data. In phase two, the developers and teams will work with AF4Q communities to further refine their applications with independent judges, including leaders and patients from Aligning Forces communities, selecting finalist developers from phase one contestants.

The developer with the winning app will receive $100,000. The second place winner will receive $25,000, and the third place winner will be awarded $5,000. Award winners will be announced in June 2012.

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