ONC Announces (Really Short) Behavioral App Contest

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) announced on August 27, 2013 a new “app” challenge.  The challenge is designed to promote patient management of behavioral health and to extend treatment to a wider population.  

Submissions were due on September 3, a mere week after the challenge was announced.  The ONC indicated the timeframe is designed to encourage owners of existing apps to submit their work for the challenge.  The top 3 finishers will be invited to a White House event on September 16 where the winner will either present their application in person or via video demonstration. 

The ONC explained that with 20% of adults and 13% of adolescents suffering from mental disorders, and 9% 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.  Notwithstanding, fewer than 1/2 of adults and 1/3 of children with mental disorders, and only 11% of individuals with substance abuse disorders, receive treatment. 

The conference will highlight how technology can be used to improve treatment for behavioral health disorders.  The contest hopes to identify and highlight existing technologies to do so.

Hopefully, this is not the last of such challenges.  Information regarding the rules of submission can currently be found at http://challenge.gov/onc/623-behavorial-health-patient-empowerment-challenge.  Developers would be wise to review the rules and determine if their applications could meet the requirements and designs should a new challenge be announced.

For more information, please contact Thomas N. Hutchinson, Krieg DeVault LLP, 12800 N. Meridian Street, Ste. 300, Carmel, IN  46032-5406, phone: 317-238-6254.