Announcing the Apps4TotsHealth Challenge!

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is excited to announce its newest Investing in Innovation challenge, the Apps4Tots Health Challenge.  Created in collaboration with the Office of the HHS Chief Technology Officer and the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Apps4TotsHealth Challenge is a call for developers, researchers, and innovators to encourage use of the new TXT4Tots message library by integrating it into new or existing applications that will reach parents and caregivers of young children.

While the goal of the Apps4Tots Health Challenge is to integrate the TXT4Tots library and messaging functions into existing or entirely new applications, we aren’t looking for your typical smartphone application. We want to see how library content can be integrated in new ways to reach users and that takes data use to the next level.  Submitting an application whose only function is to deliver the TXT4Tots messages is not enough to win the Challenge. A winning application will distribute messages to a wide audience while also being augmented with other functionalities that make it indispensable to parents and caregivers of young children.

To give developers the most flexibility for designing their applications, we have an Application Programming Interface (API)-enabled the TXT4Tots library, located at The Federal government’s data liberation and innovation initiatives prioritize the development and use of APIs, which are tools for building software applications. APIs make it easier for data to be accessed, updated and used; by enabling automatic content updates, the actual person-hours spent manually updating content can be markedly reduced.

The TXT4Tots message libraries API is just one of 35 APIs available on This is a step in the right direction for data liquidity and demonstrating the importance of structured data and APIs.  While the messages in the library hold significant value, they lose all value if not used in apps or other products.

The TXT4Tots library consists of approximately 250 short, evidence-based messages on nutrition and physical activity targeted to parents, caregivers, and health care providers of children ages 1-5 years, and it is available in both English and Spanish.  Content for the messages was derived from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents, which uses a developmentally based approach to address children’s health needs in the context of family and community.  Messages address topics such as tips and recipes for healthy snacking, and ways to encourage physical activity among children through games and play.

The winner of the Challenge will be announced at Health Datapalooza IV on June 3-4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. A total of $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to the top three winners, including $17,500 for the first-place finisher. To learn more about the Challenge, please visit