Innovating for Infant Mortality: HIMSS Developer Challenge Winners Announced

Hours of brainstorming, research, collaboration, and caffeine-fueled, late-night meetings are over, but the promising innovations contributed during the HIMSS Developer Challenge remain. The community-facing technology development initiative asked for innovative tech solutions to reduce infant mortality – and found them. On Nov. 5, judges selected twelve teams from local, national, and international communities in the final round of competition. Now it has come to a close, we’re proud to announce the first, second and third place winners of our HIMSS Developer Challenge – and a snapshot of their inspiring innovative solutions.


Kicking off in October, teams spent the previous month developing and honing solutions spanning three challenge content areas: stress management, resources for expectant fathers and leveraging community health workers. Each solution was also created to utilize the wealth of knowledge gained at the Battle for our Babies Summit. The summit, which introduced the developer’s challenge, was implemented in partnership with and The Cleveland Foundation's CTL+ALT+CLE Program. The goal was to provide challenge participants and the greater community with a platform for exchanging and developing knowledge through technologies relevant to the infant mortality crisis.


And now…for the exciting announcement of our winning teams:


First Place ($10,000):            The SMILE Team

Second Place ($7,000):          The Tackle Fatherhood Team

Third Place ($5,000):            The Gabby System Team


Helping Moms Manage Stress


Our first-place winner is the SMILE team, composed of Dr. Simon Lin, Dr. Lisa Militello, Dr. Emre Sezgin, and Dr. Yungui Huang. The team included members from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University, with an additional partnership with Duet Health. The team’s innovative solution addressed the challenge content area related to stress management, proposing a digital health intervention tool called Stress Management Intervention Life Essentials (SMILE). Quoting their Executive Summary,


“SMILE is an interactive voice-activated system to support the practice of positive stress management skills and positive health behaviors to perinatal women (pregnancy through the baby’s first birthday) in the wild.”


“To leverage upcoming and future technologies, SMILE utilizes the Amazon Alexa voice-activated system to deliver brief, interactive education and stress management skills to women during the perinatal period.”


“Content and delivery is framed in 3 primary domains: perinatal education, health behavior skills, and social determinants of health/everyday context.”


The forward-thinking integration of smart speaker technology and social health determinants has huge potential for widespread implementation and ease-of-use for the target demographic. It uses an up-and-coming technology to implement a thoughtful and innovative solution to the challenge of reducing maternal stress, a leading cause of infant mortality.


The SMILE team plans to funnel their prize money back into the project, with plans to spend $8,000 to design, develop, and test the system, $1,000 to collect user data, analyze focus groups, and interview stakeholders, and $1,000 for dissemination into the community, via advertisements, conferences, announcements, talks and networking.


Encouraging Expectant Fathers


The second-place winner is the Tackle Fatherhood Team, composed of Jake O’Donnell and Audrey Moore, STEM students from the University of Rochester who addressed the challenge content area of resources for expectant fathers.


The team proposed a community-based, sports-themed website/application platform with the primary objective of “[motivating] fathers to be accountable, educated, and active in their role as a parent.”


They designed the application with a football theme which can be adapted to other sports that appeal to a varied international audience, while providing information and communication via three main areas:


“[The] Playbook, which gives executable actions that fathers can act out in order to help the expectant mother or care for the newborn baby.”


“The Huddle, which is the discussion forum platform that allows fathers to talk to each other and also pushes suggestions when keywords form the discussions relate to relevant articles.”


“[The] Positions, which is a system in which the father can see what roles he should be filling to make the family unit a successful team. This section also has a statistics section in which fathers can track what they have helped with, note areas that they can improve in, and share their progress in the huddle for accountability with their groups.”


The Tackle Fatherhood team plans to utilize their prize money for future numerous future developments, including personalized account creation, tags for topics in the huddle, search functionality, chatbot features, statistics reporting and privacy settings.


Reducing Risks with Virtual Conversations


Our third-place winner is the Gabby System Team, comprised of Brian Jack, M.D., Jessica Howard, Clevanne Julce, and Nireesha Sidduri, in collaboration with Northeastern University and the Select Panel on Preconception Care’s clinical workgroup.


The Gabby System Team addressed the challenge content area of leveraging community health workers. They proposed an “animated computer character that simulates face-to-face conversation” about health risks within the realm of preconception care.


According to the Gabby System’s Executive Summary,


“The system screens for over 100 health risks, and mitigates or resolves those risks in a series of conversations over 6 months…”


“Gabby engages women in an unfolding, empathetic conversational dialogue designed to educate them about their tailored health risks…”


“[Gabby] creates a ‘My Health To-Do List,’ which users may choose to share with their healthcare provider.”


The Gabby System Team utilized an evidence-based approach personalized for an at-risk individuals’ care through unique methods such as motivational interviewing, shared decision making and individually tailored screenings, all within the web-based platform.


The team plans to leverage the Developer Challenge publicity and connections by seeking to collaborate with a business partner to brand, advertise and market their web-app to take the Gabby System to the next level.


Congratulations to All Challenge Teams

HIMSS, & The Cleveland Foundation's CTL+ALT+CLE Program recognizes the enormous amount of time and resources invested by all those who submitted an entry in the Developer Challenge. We commend and congratulate every team and encourage them to leverage the valuable resources and connections made during the event to continue the important dialogue around infant mortality, a crisis affecting communities everywhere.