App Challenge

Senior Program Officer Michael Painter Presents Check to Symcat

Winner Announced:

On June 5th at Datapalooza 2012, John Lumpkin, senior vice president at RWJF, announced the winners to the morning plenary audience. First prize went to Craig and David for their Symcat application. They designed Symcat to help cyberchondriacs—or people who search the internet about worrisome symptoms (i.e., most of us) —understand what conditions might be causing those symptoms but importantly also provide immediate, customized information for those searchers. Symcat is both a web and mobile app and features an extensive symptom vocabulary, intelligent and dynamic question generation, machine learning to calculate probable diagnoses, and trusted medical information from MedlinePlus and AHRQ. Symcat incorporated Aligning Forces performance metrics to help users find quality care personalized to the searcher’s medical needs. Independent of the RWJF challenge, the Datapalooza organizers selected Symcat from hundreds of submissions to present their application on the main stage plenary session.
The five semi-finalists in the Aligning Forces Challenge were:
AHEAD Research, Flexis, Vitality, iHealth Ventures and Ringful. The semi-finalists were selected to move from Phase I to Phase II. During Phase II the teams will further develop their solutions for assessment and evaluation in terms of real-world impact. Phase II will culminate in a live judging session at the Aligning Forces National Meeting in New Orleans, LA on May 16.

The RWJF Aligning Forces Challenge launched on October 28, 2011 and asked competing developers to create applications that provide consumers access to comparative quality care metrics across the country. The applications were required to pool data from Aligning Forces for Quality, the Foundation’s signature effort to improve the quality of health care in 16 targeted communities nationwide. The Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Humboldt, Kansas City, Memphis, Minnesota, South Central Pennsylvania and Wisconsin communities made their data available for application integration, utilization and optimization.

“We are very excited about the Phase I results,” said Michael W. Painter, J.D., M.D. and senior program officer at RWJF. “On a small scale, the competing teams participated in seed efforts to transform health care. All of the semi-finalist teams created applications designed to help patients and consumers with their health care decision making. All of these apps attempt to present complicated information in smart ways to guide, assist and enhance that decision making. We look forward to Phase II of the challenge as the teams refine these new interesting tools.”

The Challenge saw a record number of entrants (55) and a high number of final submissions (19). From the pool of submissions, the five semi-finalists were selected to participate in the second phase. In the second phase, the teams will work closely with the Aligning Forces communities to refine their applications.