The Department of Health and Human Services recently named Lyfechannel’s myfamily app as the winner of its Healthfinder.gov Mobile App Challenge. The challenge, sponsored by HHS’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and managed with help from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and healthcare IT company Health 2.0, sought software developers to design and create a mobile app that makes preventative care information and content from healthfinder.gov easily accessible and customizable. Healthfinder.gov’s data, which includes clinical preventive services information, is pulled from over 1,000 governmental and non-profit organizations.
The mHealth (mobile health) developers were required to coordinate their efforts with both healthcare professionals and patients through a crowdsourcing platform called Health Tech Hatch. HHS’ Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak lauded this process in a press release, saying, “The use of crowdsourcing and feedback loops provided teams with critical information to develop a more useful application – not just another app – but a piece of technology that fulfills the needs of its users and improves health.”
26 development teams and over 160 end-users (healthcare providers and patients) were involved in the process, with more than 260 comments made on the submissions, which were reviewed based on criteria including usability and design, functionality and accuracy, and the use of plain language and health literacy principles. Privately-held company Lyfechannel decided to seek even more outside input, interviewing people to try to determine what health management need could be met by their app, ultimately finding that while the resources existed and were available, consumers didn’t always know what to do with that health information with regard to their own preventive care. The company’s developers then created the myfamily app to help families manage their health through a mobile platform.
The Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, stated in the release, “This app helps put the power of prevention at the fingertips of Americans. Families can now use healthfinder.gov preventive care information to make informed, personalized healthcare decisions right from their smartphone.” The app allows users to easily find customized prevention information for each family member, keep track of check-ups and vaccinations, and create personal health alerts. Lyfechannel CEO Dave Vockell described it as “a wildly informed set of instructions to help prioritize the health journey and keep track of it.”
The iOS app is available as a free download for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch on Apple’s iOS App Store; an Android version, and a Spanish-language version to be called mifamilia, will be made available over the next several weeks. Mobile apps, like McKesson’s Medisoft and Lytec Mobile apps, which synchronize with their respective desktop-based medical billing applications, are increasingly being utilized by healthcare professionals and patients alike, as modern life dictates more and more mobility and flexibility.