HHS contest-winning app uses population modeling for heart attack risk assessment

By Jonah Comstock

heart healthTimed somewhat appropriately on Valentine's Day, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the winner of its Million Hearts Risk Assessment Challenge this week. More than 35 developers competed to create a mobile app that would leverage Archimedes analytics engine IndiGO (which stands for Individual Guidelines and Outcomes) for patient use, allowing anyone to easily calculate their risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

The winning app, the Heart Health Mobile App developed by Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic, is now available for a free download for Apple products in the iOS AppStore. The app provides a risk assessment in response to a series of lifestyle questions, then directs users to nearby locations for cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, where possible. The user can take the assessment multiple times and track their changes. It also suggests actions users can take to reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack, and displays the percent by which an action -- like quitting smoking, taking medication, or exercising more -- can improve outcomes.

The app can be used in both a traditional and a gamified way, with the game version awarding points for tasks completed and targets reached.

The challenge, launched in July as part of President Obama's Investing in Innovation program, was also related to HHS's Million Hearts Initiative, a project launched in September 2011 with the goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years. Marshfield Clinic will receive $100,000 for winning, and each of the four other finalists received $5,000.

Archimedes is a for-profit wholly owned subsidiary of Kaiser Permanente, that originally developed the Archimedes model to model population health for making policy decisions and planning interventions. More recently, they developed IndiGO to model individual health statistics, but this is the first time it's been integrated with a consumer API. Up until now, it's only been used at the point of care, incorporated into some electronic health records.

"The tool's now used in a clinical setting, but we want to engage a patient, get them motivated to make changes in their life. We want to bring this tool to consumer's hand," said Josh Adler, VP and IndiGO business leader at Archimedes. "We think it's a very powerful tool to engage patients, to get them active, to improve their health."

Archimedes plans to continue to offer their API to app makers even after the contest is over.