The application period for this year’s MEDICA App COMPETITION has been running since the middle of May and will end on 30 September 2016. Developers from all over the world will be able to submit their medical app ("medical mobile solution”) up until that time. Thereby, they will gain the opportunity to participate in the live competition for the best app intended for use during everyday medical and hospital routine during the world's leading medical trade fair, MEDICA (14 – 17 November 2016 in Düsseldorf) in Düsseldorf. "This is the world's largest competition of this kind,” explains Mark Wächter, mobile strategy consultant at MWC.mobi. The organisers are looking for purely business-oriented solutions for the target groups of doctors, hospitals or medical teams. Wellness apps are not eligible. On 16 November, a jury shall decide which of the 15 applicants will be allowed to present their products on the stage located in hall 15.
A look back in time illustrates the creativity that has already distinguished the app developers so far. The apps "Talkitt", "SmokeWatchers" and "MobileODT" took first, second and third place respectively last year.
The "CervDx powers MobileODT's Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA)" system provides support for trained health professionals in the field of visual cervical cancer screening. It offers the possibility of managing patient information, getting a digital second opinion and correctly transferring patients. Thereby, it is important in Germany that, although those insured there have always had the right to obtain a second opinion already, this entitlement is only now being re-emphasised for certain indications within the Code of Social Law. It has not yet been established for which indications exactly these are to apply. In 2012, even the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) already stated that telemedicine is permissible, "provided that it is carried out in compliance with professional law, that it is ensured that the doctor treats the patient directly and a another doctor is involved with the treatment via the telemedical method." So far, something such as this represents good prerequisites for the continued success of MobileODT.
"SmokeWatchers” is a system conceived by a French developer team. In combination with a Bluetooth-enabled stick that is compatible with commercially available e-cigarettes, the app, which is installed on a smartphone, records the precise amount of vapor consumed – all the way to the daily number of puffs on the e-cigarette and the approximate quantity of nicotine consumed. This results in being a top motivational aid for "further forcing down” the data curves, thereby continuously reducing the amount of nicotine intake.
However, “Talkitt” was chosen to take first place, being the first product of the Israeli start-up company VoiceItt to date. Although this app has not been launched onto the market yet, it is considered to be very innovative and full of potential. Talkitt would like to revolutionise the communication possibilities for people with limited speech abilities – regardless of the language they speak. Maren Lesche, an advisor at VoiceItt, introduced the app last year, thus being one of this year’s jury members. She reports: “Winning at the MEDICA was totally surprising!” This although it is not the company's first success. For the time being, prize money from various competitions is still considered to be one of the larger sources of money for the Israeli start-up. The people behind Talkitt have already received more than around 900,000 euros in this way. Thereby, they knew very well how to prepare if you only have three minutes to promote your product in front of the jury.
Qualified questions are to be expected at the MEDICA
In Düsseldorf, it is not about introducing business plans, though. The competition focuses more on things like intuitive user experience (UX/UI), the degree of innovation and the degree of problem-solving/aid assistance. And the presenter has to be in the position to give good answers to critical questions: "The specialist audience at the MEDICA is different than those found at events purely for start-ups. This is something you have to be ready for,” advises Lesche. Thereby, the MEDICA App COMPETITION is not a competition that yields hundreds of thousands of euros. The prize, being purely material in nature, was an iPad last year, which can be naturally useful for start-ups. This year’s first place winner will be honoured with 2,000 euros, second place will be awarded 1,000 euros and third place will receive 500 euros. In Lesche’s opinion however, it was much more important to receive the opportunity to present the product to the decision-makers who are visitors to the MEDICA. In the meantime, she has taken up negotiations with various suppliers from the field of healthcare. The market launch of the "Talkitt” app is planned for the end of the year.
"Recorditt”, another app by VoiceItt, can already be downloaded now from the Apple app store, iTunes. People with language disabilities have been called upon to submit samples of their speech here and thus contribute to the development of the app. In this way, according to Maren Lesche, a database is being built that will serve to improve the "translation" of any individual speech at hand into standard language. The more speech samples are stored within this database, the more precisely the app can carry out its task. By doing this, participants will then receive the "Talkitt” app free of charge for the period of one year. This, according to Lesche, has been well received, especially by parents who want to motivate their afflicted children, Over the medium-term, the mini programme could also achieve even more: If, for example, patients with multiple sclerosis suffer from an acute episode of the disease, this can also be noticed from their speech pattern. In this way, at some time in the future, the app could also be used to inform the doctor that the disease has progressed and that inviting the patient would probably be sensible.
Top international jury
In addition to Maren Lesche, Dr. med. Urs-Vito Albrecht from the Medical University of Hanover is also part of the jury this year at the MEDICA App COMPETITION. He recently received a lot of public attention with the critical study "Chances and Risks of Mobile Health Apps (CHARISMHA)". However, the jury will also include Ralf-Gordon Jahns (research2guidancet), Ronny Köhler (wdv group), Tom Mitchell (Messe Düsseldorf North-America), Levi Shapiro (mHealth Israel), Dr. Klaus Stöckemann (Peppermint VenturePartners) und Tjaša Zajc (Medicina danes). Not only the participants come from all across the world – the jury is also international.
All medical mobile solutions that have been nominated for this year's live event will receive notification at the beginning of October 2016. The actual pitch is going to take place live during the MEDICA 2016 on Wednesday, 16 November from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the stage of the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM located in hall 15. Each team has three minutes to present their medical mobile solution in English. For another two minutes, the jury will ask questions concerning the subject-matter at hand. The winners will be selected on site and their victories will be duly celebrated - for instance, with a get-together held at the US pavilion following the event.
Author reference: Dr. Lutz Retzlaff, freelance medical journalist (Neuss)