Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, a division of Marshfield Clinic, announced today that its first completed mobile app has won a national competition that challenged competitors to develop a program that will help improve heart health in the U.S.
The app, Heart Health Mobile, was developed for the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge, organized by the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in partnership with Million Hearts. The competition aimed to find an application, or app, that supports Million Hearts' initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
For winning the competition, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation will receive $100,000 that will support the app's development and future versions.
"Our goal with Heart Health Mobile was to develop an app that can help people live healthier lives," said Dr. Simon Lin, app project leader and director of the Biomedical Informatics Research Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. "The app gives people a fun, interactive tool that lets them track key risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, while monitoring improvement."
With an easy-to-use design, Heart Health Mobile tracks users' heart disease and stroke risk factors. Users enter statistics such as height, weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. They then answer questions such as: "Do you smoke?" and "Do you have diabetes?"
Heart Health Mobile currently works on Apple iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch devices. The app is available in the
Apple app store. Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in early March will release a web-based (HTML5) version that works on other devices. The web-based and iOS versions, along with other Heart Health Mobile information, will be available at
The app also offers educational information about heart disease and allows users to find nearby locations for cholesterol and blood-pressure screening in areas with participating pharmacies. A feature that tracks users' histories allows people to easily monitor progress.
To keep people interested in using the app, developers created a version that incorporates achievements and a mini-game designed to make tracking risk factors more entertaining for people as they work to improve their health. Heart Health Mobile also incorporates Facebook and Twitter.
The mini-game features characters who walk increasingly faster and faster across the screen. They each represent an unhealthy lifestyle habit – smoking, lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Users get points for dragging as many characters as possible into the correct buckets.
"With Heart Health Mobile, we were inspired to find a way to make the concept of a healthy lifestyle entertaining," said Bryan Weichelt, project manager for the app. "Just as we all need motivation to exercise and eat healthful food, we also need easy-to-use tools to track our health goals. That's what this app aims to provide."
More than two dozen people in 11 departments helped create Heart Health Mobile. The team included lead developer Yin Xu and graphic designer Shawn Williams. Xu said he was inspired by the opportunity to create an app that could potentially help people.
"Mobile apps increasingly are being used in health care, so our goal was to create an app that stood apart from others," Xu said. "By adding the game, we ensured that users get the important health information they need, but also enjoy the process."
Sponsors of the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge include Surescripts, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Million Hearts initiative and Archimedes Inc.
Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), a division of Marshfield Clinic, was founded in 1959. It's the largest private medical research institute in Wisconsin. MCRF consists of research centers in clinical research, agricultural health and safety, epidemiology, human genetics, and biomedical informatics. Marshfield Clinic investigators publish extensively in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals addressing a wide range of diseases and other health issues, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, eye disease, neurological disease, pediatrics, radiology, women's health, agricultural safety and genetics.
The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.