Seeking Application Developers for the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge

Can we really prevent a million heart attacks and strokes in the next five years? The Million HeartsTM initiative is a public-private effort to do just that by implementing proven, effective, and inexpensive interventions. It’s doable only because so many individuals at high risk for heart attacks and strokes are not being adequately treated, and in many cases, are not in treatment at all. Only 47 percent of people at high risk are on aspirin; less than half of those with high blood pressure or cholesterol have it well controlled; and about one fourth are unaware of their condition.

Million HeartsTM Risk Check Challenge

Today, ONC and Million HeartsTM announced a new initiative, the Million HeartsTM Risk Check Challenge, to help people calculate their risk of having a heart attack or stroke and take steps to change their odds. Through this initiative, we are challenging app developers to create new tools for engaging and informing consumers that could be used in pilot cities and disseminated nationwide.

New Resources for Application Developers

We have worked with private-sector partners to make available two powerful new resources for challenge participants through application programming interfaces (APIs).

  • First is a cloud-based analytic engine that performs state-of-the-art predictive modeling of individualized risk in real-time. The Archimedes Indigo tool has been available only to select health care providers, but through this challenge will be made broadly available to members of the public through their mobile devices. This is the first time that the Indigo product has beenadapted to accept strictly user-generated data.
  • The second innovation builds on the commitment of community pharmacies and chain drug stores—a sometimes overlooked and underutilized participant in the care delivery chain. There is a pharmacy on average within two miles of every home in America. The Million HeartsTM Risk Check Challenge will help individuals to take advantage of the convenient lipid and blood pressure screenings offered by pharmacy chains across the country. Surescripts is for the first time creating and managing a centralized directory of these services, which will also be incorporated into the app via an API, letting individuals locate and contact their nearest pharmacy for a screening.

With these APIs, the challenge app developers can focus on optimizing user experience and will contribute to the exploding field of consumer health information technology campaigns. Individuals who complete this sophisticated cardiac risk assessment—with blood pressure and cholesterol measurements supplementing other demographic and medical risk factors—will learn their risk of having a heart attack and stroke if they continue on their current track, and how much they can reduce their risks if they take simple steps in partnership with their health care providers and community partners.

Promoting the Winning Million Hearts App

There will be up to five finalists selected. The winning app developer will receive $100,000 and will be featured prominently in Million HeartsTM public health education.

Four cities have already signed up and pledged to promote the winning app in their communities: Tulsa, Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore. (Other cities and communities are encouraged to reach out to Dr. John Michael O’Brien at [email protected] if they are interested in promoting the app.)

These campaigns will be executed at the local level, with the support of private partners and the federal government, and are planned to include outdoor, radio, and print advertising; grassroots, community-based promotion; and promotion at major events.

We observed this dynamic in the txt4health campaign that kicked off in January in three of our Beacon Communities: New Orleans, Detroit, and Cincinnati. Each of those cities had tremendous success rallying local partners—including advertising agencies, big box retailers, and health plans—around a consumer and community-specific initiative. Million Hearts will also make it a focus of the national messaging, and national corporate partners will promote it through their respective channels and messaging.

This new initiative is near and dear to my heart: It is an example of how three different core investments at HHS—health IT, team-based care improvement, and community based prevention—can be brought together to positively impact a common and measurable goal.

We can do it, together.

The Bottom Line

The winning Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge will be a mobile app that helps consumers take a heart health risk assessment, find places to get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and use the numbers to work with their health care professional to develop a plan to improve their heart health. It will be built using APIs from Surescripts and Archimedes so developers can focus primarily on user experience.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM serves as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.