Calling for behavioral health apps

August 28, 2013 in Medical Technology

 It’s not so much a developer contest as a call for existing mobile apps — in a rather tight timeframe.

The Office of the National Coordinator on Aug. 27 opened a new application challenge, this one designed to arm patients with technology that helps them manage behavioral healthcare and extend treatment to more patients.

“The intent of the challenge is to showcase innovative applications that use evidence-based strategies to empower consumer self-management of behavioral health disorders,” Adam Wong, a program analyst at ONC, wrote on the HealthIT Buzz blog

[See also: Bryan Sivak: Chief disrupter at HHS.]

ONC is conducting the Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, aka SAMSHA, and the National Institutes of Health.

But participants only have one week to enlist.

That’s because on Sept. 16 SAMSHA is holding its Technology Innovations for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Conference at the White House.

“To be clear, we are interested only in applications that are currently available, and this can include websites optimized for mobile devices,” Wong explained. “Participation in the challenge requires submission of, or directions to access, an application that must be available for use by consumers on a widely-used platform for mobile devices by the submission end date of September 3.”

The top three finishers will be invited to the White House event, Wong added, where the winner will either present the application in-person or via a video demonstration.

[See also: ONC launches apps challenge.]

ONC explained that with 20 percent of adults and 13 percent of adolescents suffering from mental disorders, and 9 percent of Americans 12 and older with substance abuse or dependence, health IT holds “significant potential” to empower patients to play a greater role in their care.

“Despite the high personal and societal burden of these disorders,” Wong wrote, “fewer than half of adults and only one-third of children with mental disorders and only 11 percent of individuals with substance use disorders receive treatment.”

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