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New apps help women of color close the gap in accessing life-saving cancer information

LatinaLista — In 2010, the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge was launched to spur creativity among developers to come up with apps that would solve issues in the healthcare field. One such issue has been the unequal access to healthcare information and treatment between women of color and Anglo women.

Research has shown that Latinas and Black women have overall negative outcomes to diagnosed medical conditions when compared to their white counterparts. The main problem has been, and remains, that women of color tend to see their doctors only after too much time has passed between the time when they first notice symptoms and they make that first appointment.

1st Place - Big Yellow Star-1

In many cases, the disease is already so advanced by the time they see their doctors that they have to undergo very aggressive treatment, — sometimes, not surviving what could have been a preventable death.

The folks at the 2.0 Health Developer Challenge realized if there was a way to provide women of color with the medical information they needed and the necessary alerts to make them get up and make that phone call to their doctors before it was too late, it would be a life-saving breakthrough.

And that’s what happened.

This week, Health & Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Dr. J. Nadine Gracia announced the winners of the Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color Challenge. It’s a “first-of-its-kind effort to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.”

The apps help women of color recognize the symptoms of cancer while providing them the information on what their next steps should be. The four winning apps were based on a criteria that included:

  • Patient engagement: Incorporating patient-reported information
  • Quality and accessibility of information: Providing high quality, evidence-based information and interventions using plain language, a clear display that considers usability on a small-screen interface (Web Usability and Aging, Usability and Mobile Devices), and targeting patients with a range of health literacy levels
  • Targeted and actionable information: Providing tailored information, recommendations, and reminders
  • Links to online communities and/or social media: Link patients with others who are facing the same health challenges through social media sites or organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, and to other sources of support, such as community health workers, patient navigators, or promotores de salud
  • Innovativeness and usability: Innovativeness and an easy-to-use interface for patients with a range of experiences and comfort levels with technology
  • Non-English language availability: Availability of the tool in languages used in minority and underserved communities

“This challenge created an innovative opportunity to use new technologies and new platforms to engage women in communities that have too often been dismissed as ‘hard-to-reach,’” Dr. Gracia said. “Through these innovative tools, we are addressing disparities by reaching women where they are – and taking an exciting step forward in implementing the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.”

Big Yellow Star took First Place with its Everhealthier Women app.

The bilingual (Spanish/English) app helps women track cancer prevention tasks, for themselves and others in their “healthy circle” through mobile web and SMS text messaging. The tasks, which users track for themselves and their loved ones, are the screenings and prevention behaviors that match their age and profile according to national guidelines. Everhealthier Women provides up-to-date information on a variety of health issues and links to online resources including a diversity of organizations’ cancer care and prevention Facebook and Twitter feeds and locates local providers.

Second Place went to Broadstone Technologies’ Preventing Cancer app.

The app raises awareness around cancer prevention in women of color by empowering them with the information and tools needed to actively manage their health and well-being. The application is designed to work on smartphones, feature phones, and web browsers.

A tie occurred for Third Place between Appbrahma and HW-Technology:

Appbrahma’s Cancergaurd is an iPhone app which aims to help reduce the risk of cancer among minority women by various tools and services like Cancer Guide, Workshops, Publications, Counseling, Events, Support Groups and EHR’s.

HW-Technology’s Cancer Awareness App’s main focus is to bring people the information of cancer in their own native language, moreover to persuade them to keep fighting against cancer and share their experiences with their community who are suffering fighting cancer.

And Honorable Mention went to Netzealous which created SupportHealth.

SupportHealth is an android-based mobile app, designed for patients, physicians and sponsors, built to empower women in minority and underserved communities to fight, prevent and monitor cancer with such features as multi-lingual support, hospital search, symptoms tracker, health alerts, diagnostic history and the sharing of medical records among patients, physicians and sponsors.

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