As we celebrate National Women's Health Week, we reaffirm our commitment to women's health - and look ahead to new innovations, new platforms, and new opportunities in our efforts to empower women and advance health equity for women in all communities.
In August 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color Challenge. The challenge called on software developers and entrepreneurs to create an application for mobile devices that would help women in underserved and minority communities access information about cancer screening and preventive services, link to electronic health records, and connect with providers and community health workers. This was the first-of-its-kind, effort to engage and empower women of color in the fight against cancer - and put technology to the test in addressing deep-rooted health disparities.
Each year, more than 68,000 women in the United States die from breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancers. Given gaps in education, prevention, early treatment, quality of care, and access to networks of support, a disproportionate burden of these diseases falls upon women of color.
In the face of these disparities, the developer community stepped up to the challenge. As submissions came in from all across the country, a panel of judges comprised of federal and private experts in health care and health information technology set to work assessing the entries. Selection criteria included: capacity to provide users with general, easy-to-access information about screenings; securely communicate with patient health records or provider-sponsored patient portals; provide user-specific reminders about preventive services; accommodate multiple languages; encourage patient and family engagement with providers; and connect patients to community health workers who can provide support in adhering to complex care plans.
Based on these criteria, first place, second place, third place, and honorable mention distinctions were awarded. On behalf of the HHS Office of Minority Health and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, I am excited to announce the winners:
We are excited to provide new tools to help minority women and those in underserved communities take control of their health by receiving a list of screening and preventive services and details on how to better coordinate their information and care.
The Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color Challenge is a partnership between the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the HHS Office of Minority Health. To learn more about the app challenge, the winners, and information on how to download the winning apps please visit: http://challenge.gov/ONC/402-reducing-cancer-among-women-of-color and http://www.health2con.com/devchallenge/reducing-cancer-among-women-color-challenge/.
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About the author: J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health (Acting) in the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.