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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Health Care

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) $100,000 ‘App Challenge’ Announced

Winner will create software to compare quality of care provided by local doctors and hospitals

Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 13:21

(RWJF: Houston) -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced an Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) $100,000 “app challenge”—a competition among technology developers to create easy-to-use online tools that help consumers find information on the quality of their local physicians and hospitals.

In the RWJF Aligning Forces app challenge, competing developers will create applications for various devices, including smart phones or iPads, that will allow consumers to easily access and experience comparative information about the quality of care provided in various regions of the country. Data to fuel the app will come from RWJF’s “Aligning Forces for Quality” initiative, the foundation’s signature effort to improve the quality of health care in 16 targeted communities nationwide.

Aligning Forces community alliances have already developed publicly available online reports that provide information about the quality of care delivered in their local communities. Reports include quality measures for care delivered for conditions such as diabetes—such as whether patients were given the tests and procedures that medical evidence shows is best for their condition—and the safety of local hospitals. Participating developers will help make the consumer experience with these existing data more dynamic, interactive, and consumer-friendly than when information is simply displayed on a website.

Numerous surveys show that people are uncertain about the quality of the health care they receive and increasingly seek health information online to support their medical decision making. In a poll RWJF commissioned Harvard’s School of Public Health to conduct in April 2011, 55 percent of American adults surveyed barely gave the quality of American health care a passing grade—a C or D on a standard report card scale.

“Choosing the right doctor or hospital is one of the most important health care decisions a consumer will make, yet many consumers don’t know where they can find information to help inform their decisions and improve their communications with doctors,” says Michael W. Painter, M.D., and senior program officer at RWJF. “Using apps to make information more readily available has the power to transform health care.”

The Aligning Forces app challenge will be conducted in two phases. Phase one is an open challenge for interested developer teams to create and submit new applications using Aligning Forces data. In phase two, the developer teams will work with AF4Q communities to further refine their applications with independent judges, including leaders and patients from Aligning Forces communities, selecting finalist developers from phase one contestants. The developer of the winning app will receive $100,000. The second-place winner will receive $25,000, and the third-place winner will be awarded $5,000.

Winners will be announced in June 2012. Developers can learn more and register to enter the challenge at www.health2challenge.org. The deadline for entry submission for phase one is Dec. 31, 2011.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is dedicated to the research and development of initiatives to improve health care quality, and its funding has helped define the field of quality improvement by developing national quality standards, initiating pay-for-performance experiments, creating improved care models for patients with chronic illnesses, improving quality and safety in hospitals, and engaging stakeholders to measure performance and publicly report on the quality of care.