The researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School who envisioned a health care app store — where physicians could download and test-drive an electronic health record system for less than a cup of coffee — appear to be making good on their promise to put the project on the fast track. Dr. Isaac Kohane and Dr. Kenneth Mandl, colleagues at Children’s Hospital, were awarded a $15 million Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) grant by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC, to develop a platform architecture that could support an app store specifically for health care.
The project was funded for four years, but the doctors were optimistic that the open source application platform would be up and running in two. On March 8, less than one year after receiving the SHARP grant, the project’s SMART (Substitutable Medical Applications, reusable technologies) platform and interface were made publicly available for developers to begin building apps, “to kick off the start of a $5,000 competition challenging developers to create Web applications that provide specific functionality for patients, physicians, or for public health.”
Developers can get details on the SMART health app $5,000 challenge page. The winning health care app developer “will receive $5,000 and be invited to meet with the SMART team to demonstrate [the] application and discuss further development opportunities,” and two teams will be awarded an honorable mention, with their apps “showcased in the Apps Gallery.” The apps will be judged based on their clinical, research or public health value; their quality of user interface and user experience; and their innovation in approach.