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July 27, 2012
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

HHS seeks new apps to help consumers determine, reduce heart risk

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced a new challenge to create a mobile app to help consumers reduce their risk for heart disease by controlling their blood pressure and managing their cholesterol.

The Million HeartsTM Risk Check Challenge invites developers to create a mobile app that will help consumers take a heart health risk assessment, find places to get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and use the results to work with their health care professional to develop a plan to improve their heart health.  The new app will be part of a broader education effort in support of the Million HeartsTM initiative, a public-private effort of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that aims to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes through clinical and community prevention.

Controlling blood pressure and managing cholesterol are essential to reducing risk for heart disease and stroke.  The program is co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Partners include federal agencies, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, private insurers, businesses, health advocacy groups and community organizations.

“This new challenge and the supporting consumer education campaign are examples of how new consumer health information technology, using information, data and electronic tools that many health care systems and physicians are already using, can help individuals better manage their health and working closely with their care providers,” said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., national coordinator for health information technology, speaking at the Tulsa (Okla.) Beacon Community’s Annual Provider Summit. Tulsa is one of four cities that will deploy the winning app to encourage more people to get screened and better understand their heart health. 

After the app that best meets the criteria to help people with their heart health is chosen, HHS, private partners of Million HeartsTM, and the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, San Diego, and Tulsa will launch a national education campaign encouraging more people to get cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, better understand their risk for heart attack and stroke, and take steps to improve it. Each city will promote the screenings through outdoor, radio, and print advertising; grassroots, community-based events; and other activities. Pharmacies in those cities will offer screenings and help patients communicate the results to their physicians when follow-up is needed.

“All of these efforts align with Chicago’s Public Health Agenda, Healthy Chicago. The mobile app challenge is another way for everyone to take part in making our city and our nation a healthier place. Once created it will help Chicagoans improve their cardiovascular health by giving them more tools to prevent, detect and reduce the risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke,“ said Bechara Choucair, M.D., commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

In support of Million HeartsTM, a number of pharmacies and retail clinics will provide free or low-cost screenings during the first three months of the campaign, as well as advertising and in-store promotions encouraging people to get screened and learn what their results mean.

The winning app developer will receive $100,000 and up to five finalists will each receive $5,000. The challenge begins July 27 and the winners will be announced in December. More information about the challenge is available at

“I am delighted that ONC, five city health commissioners who are champions for heart health, community pharmacies, Archimedes, and Surescripts are working together to make sure people have the technology at their fingertips to get a read on their heart health and take steps to improve it,” said Janet Wright, M.D., FACC, executive director of the Million HeartsTM initiative.

ONC is the principal federal entity charged with coordinating nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information. The position of National Coordinator was created in 2004, through an Executive Order and then legislatively mandated in 2009 in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).

The Investing in Innovation (i2) program uses prizes and challenges to facilitate innovation and obtain solutions to intractable health IT problems. Aligned with the Administration’s innovation agenda, i2 is the first federal program to operate under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. For details see

Archimedes IndiGO is the tool to be used in the development of the winning app and is based on the Archimedes Model, a clinically realistic, mathematical model that simulates human physiology, diseases and the health care system. The IndiGO tool, using advanced algorithms, analyzes person-specific health information and predicts risk of adverse health outcomes, and the benefit of adherence to medication and lifestyle changes. IndiGO is used byhealth systems in the U.S. to improve outcomes and reduce costs. This is the first time that IndiGO has been adapted to the API format for use by consumers.

Dr. Mostashari, Dr. Wright, and HHS Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak will host a webinar for media, developers and other interested parties on Aug. 13 at 5:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. PDT.  Please contact Dr. John Michael O’Brien ( or go to the challenge website to register.

For additional information about ONC, visit

For more information about the Million Hearts initiative and to access cardiovascular disease risk assessment tools visit Million Hearts is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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Last revised: October 15, 2014