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AMA announces first-ever app challenge finalists

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 02, 2011
Hurricane Irene ploughed up the East Coast over the weekend, causing billions of dollars of damage, killing more than 40 people and leaving millions without power. Many doctors were mobilized to respond to the disaster -- but what if they had an iPhone app that alerted them and solicited their help whenever a disaster struck in their town, their state or even anywhere in the world?

The Physician Disaster Preparedness doesn't exist yet, but it soon could. The app was proposed by Dr. Heather E. Kaiser, a resident in the anesthesiology department at the University of Washington in Seattle, who is one of 10 finalists in the American Medical Association's inaugural App Challenge.

The contest, which drew hundreds of submissions from residents and doctors across the country, aims to find the "next great medical app," in the words of Dr. Steven J. Stack, AMA's chair-elect.

The other nine finalist submissions include a tool for calculating breast cancer risk, a "rounder" to help doctors check up on patients in their wards, and a time-tracker which logs residents' on-duty hours.

Current AMA members have from now until Sept. 30 to vote for the two winning submissions: one from the resident/fellow/medical student category, and one from the physician category.

Once the contest ends, the two winners will each be able to buy a lot of apps of their own: each winner will receive a $1,500 Apple Store gift card and a $1,000 American Express card, as well as a trip for two to the awards ceremony, tentatively scheduled for AMA's November interim house of delegates meeting in New Orleans.

If all goes well, they'll also likely see their app come to life. The AMA said the plan, for now, is to help create and publish the winning apps.

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