News Feature | March 16, 2016

HHS Launches Provider User-Experience API Challenge

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Ease Patient Sharing Information

Focus is on demonstrating how using APIs to access data can improve EHR performance.

The Provide User-Experience Challenge, recently launched by the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), serves as an incentive for the development of apps with open application program interfaces (APIs). The challenge is designed to inspire the innovation of health provider apps that sync consumers ‘data using open APIs and focused on showing how data accessible via apps through APIs can improve providers' experience with EHRs by making clinical workflows more specific to clinical specialty, intuitive, and actionable.

The challenge is significant because the lack of interoperability between EHR systems remains a real obstacle for the modernization of health IT. As the HHS challenge statement explains, “Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), developed by HL7, is a standard designed to increase the liquidity of granular patient data. The FHIR API allows data to move between vendor systems both within and across different providers, not to mention through third-party applications for direct use by both clinicians and consumers. Among several opportunities now enabled by this interoperability standard are the new channels being opened up for improving a provider’s user experience when interacting with EHRs and the ‘consumability’ of interrelated health data.”

The challenge has two phases with the first requiring submission of technical and business plans for the app. Phase I app plans also have specific requirements, and up to five proposals will be recognized as winners and awarded up to $15,000 each. Phase 2 requires the working app be available for consumers. Submissions are open now and end May 30.

The final application must meet the following requirements:

  • uses FHIR Draft Standard for Technical Use 2 (DSTU2)
  • leverages data as specified in the 2015 Edition Common Clinical Data Set (Data column in
  • verified compatibility with different health IT developer systems implemented in production settings, 1 of which must be from the top 10 systems measured by Meaningful Use attestation per
  • apps must be integrated with a minimum of 3 unique health IT developer systems in 2 unique provider settings
  • has been tested with users in production settings
  • available to providers through at least one of the following modes: direct from web, iOS Store, or Android Stores

The second phase runs May 31 to November 7, 2016, and the Phase 2 winner will receive a $50,000 award, while the second place winner will receive $25,000. There will also be an ultimate connector prize of $25,000 for the app that connects the greatest number of unique health IT developer systems implemented in production settings.