The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) just published my article “The Long Way From Government Open Data to Mobile Health Apps: Overcoming Institutional Barriers in the US Federal Government“. I analyzed mobile apps and their functions, as well as their development process. In addition, I interviewed public managers in the U.S. federal government to understand how they overcame institutional barriers to reuse open data and build mobile apps:
Background: Government agencies in the United States are creating mobile health (mHealth) apps as part of recent policy changes initiated by the White House’s Digital Government Strategy.
Objective: The objective of the study was to understand the institutional and managerial barriers for the implementation of mHealth, as well as the resulting adoption pathways of mHealth.
Methods: This article is based on insights derived from qualitative interview data with 35 public managers in charge of promoting the reuse of open data through Challenge.gov, the platform created to run prizes, challenges, and the vetting and implementation of the winning and vendor-created apps.
Results: The process of designing apps follows three different pathways: (1) entrepreneurs start to see opportunities for mobile apps, and develop either in-house or contract out to already vetted Web design vendors; (2) a top-down policy mandates agencies to adopt at least two customer-facing mobile apps; and (3) the federal government uses a policy instrument called “Prizes and Challenges”, encouraging civic hackers to design health-related mobile apps using open government data from HealthData.gov, in combination with citizen needs. All pathways of the development process incur a set of major obstacles that have to be actively managed before agencies can promote mobile apps on their websites and app stores.
Conclusions: Beyond the cultural paradigm shift to design interactive apps and to open health-related data to the public, the managerial challenges include accessibility, interoperability, security, privacy, and legal concerns using interactive apps tracking citizen.
Mergel I.: The Long Way From Government Open Data to Mobile Health Apps: Overcoming Institutional Barriers in the US Federal Government, JMIR mHealth uHealth 2014;2(4):e58, URL: http://mhealth.jmir.org/2014/4/e58, DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.3694
prizes and challenges