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HHS unveils the nation’s health priorities

Monday, October 31, 2011(202) 205-0143


Launches LHI App Challenge to advance public health goals through new media technology

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today unveiled critical health priorities for the nation known as “Leading Health Indicators” (LHIs).  Announced during the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting, the LHIs will be used by policymakers and public health professionals to track progress in local communities as they work toward meeting key national health goals, such as increasing access to health services. 

HHS also launched a new app challenge that encourages developers and public health professionals to co-design applications that can be used to help solve one or more of the LHIs.  The app will help public health professionals in tracking, measuring and reporting on progress in these critical public health areas.

“The LHIs are a call to action in critical public health areas that demand our immediate attention,” said Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H., HHS assistant secretary for health. “We can solve the most pressing health problems in this country, and the LHIs prioritize our actions for a healthier future.”

LHIs, a part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, highlight current critical health issues that, if left unaddressed, can result in future public health problems. If addressed, however, these public health challenges – such as tobacco use, health disparities, and overweight and obesity – will help reduce some of the leading causes of preventable deaths and major illnesses.  For the LHI app challenge, announced by Todd Park, HHS chief technology officer, participants will submit working web or mobile prototypes that will be reviewed by a panel of expert judges from the Federal government, private sector and academia. Winning applications will include user appeal, integration of health data, and evidence of collaboration.

“The LHI App Challenge is an opportunity to improve the public’s health through innovation,” said Park.  “Developers and public health experts will work side by side to create customizable and user-friendly tools to help track the nation’s progress in addressing the LHIs.”  

The selection process for the LHIs mirrored the extensive collaborative efforts used to develop Healthy People 2020. The process, drawing on the expertise of federal and non-federal scientists, researchers, and health professionals, was spearheaded by the Healthy People 2020 Federal Interagency Workgroup (FIW), a group of approximately 50 members from HHS as well as other federal departments.  A panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine provided initial recommendations for the LHIs, which served as the starting point for the discussion. The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020 provided another perspective for the Department’s consideration.

For the past 30 years, Healthy People has provided a science-based framework for identifying and measuring the nation’s public health priorities and efforts, including the National Prevention Strategy, America’s plan for better health and wellness.   

To learn more about Healthy People and the Leading Health Indicators, please visit

For more details on the Leading Health Indicators App challenge and registration information, please visit


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at