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Need an App? Crowdsource!

Need an App? Crowdsource!

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 20, 2012
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Journal of Health Care Compliance — January – February 2012
Tatiana Melnik 
is an associate withthe Dickinson Wright law firm. Ms.Melnik sits on the Michigan BarInformation Technology Law Counciland the Automation Alley HealthcareInformation Technology Committee.Ms. Melnik holds a JD from theUniversity of Michigan Law School, aBS in Information Systems, and a BBAin International Business, both from theUniversity of North Florida.
Need an App? Crowdsource!
A Few Things to Consider Prior to Running aContest to Develop an App
obile applications (apps) are a growing phe-nomenon, and many organizations are invest-ing heavily into developing apps for variousmarkets, including Android and the Apple App Store.The various divisions of the U.S. federal government areno exception. They are using “crowdsourcing” to tap intothe vast developer talent in the United States and gath-ering ideas to solve various problems from developing a“simple system or approach that can be employed withor as a FAST rope” by the U.S. Air Force to having “any-one with a passion for photography…capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA” incelebration of OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s) 40th anniversary.
The Department of Health and Human Services andother various divisions with a stake in health care arealso tapping into the talent by running mobile app devel-oper contests. There are various issues you must consid-er prior to running a contest at your organization.
In the past several issues of the
 Journal of Health CareCompliance
, I have written about the growth of the mo- bile market in health care. In the September-October is-sue, for example, I wrote about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) framework for regulating mo- bile apps, and in the November-December issue I wroteabout some of the issues decision makers should con-sider when evaluating whether mobile technologies areright for their organizations.The use of mobile devices is growing, and consumersare increasingly using mobile devices for health care. A2010 Pew Research study found that out of the 85 per- 
Journal of Health Care Compliance — January – February 2012
Health Information Technologycent of adults that use a cell phone, 17 per-cent have used it to look up health-relatedinformation, and 9 percent have health-re- lated apps on their phones.
Many organizations have recognized thisgrowth but do not have the internal resourc-es to fill the market need. Rather than hir-ing employees, they are turning to crowd-sourcing. In general, crowdsourcing is us-ing the vast knowledge of the crowd to workon a problem. This model of crowdsourc-ing has been used with everything from theUC Berkeley’s SETI@home project to opensource development to iStockphoto.
The federal government is facilitating theuse of crowdsourcing through the www.challenge.gov Web site, which it uses to pro-mote the various technology developmentopportunities and prizes offered by numer-ous agencies and divisions.
The U.S. AirForce, for example, is seeking ideas to de-velop “a simple system or approach thatcan be employed with or as a FAST rope.”OSHA is celebrating its 40th anniversary by involving the workforce and seeking“anyone with a passion for photography…[to] capture an image of workplace safetyand health and share it with OSHA.”Similarly, the Office of the National Co-ordinator (ONC) is turning to crowdsourc-ing in an effort to find information technol-ogy solutions for the numerous health careproblems that plague the health care sys-tem. As of this writing, out of the 43 health-related challenges listed on the Challenge.gov Web site, six of them are from the ONC,with prize totals ranging from $15,000 to$100,000.
On September 30, 2011, for ex-ample, the ONC and various other stake-holders announced the
 Million Hearts Chal-lenge
, which is “a multidisciplinary call toinnovators and developers to create an ap-plication that activates and empowers pa-tients to take charge of their cardiovasculardisease.”
Entrants must have at least twoparticipants, and the first prize winner re-ceives $50,000.
These contests appear to have been suc-cessful for the government. For example,the Apps Against Abuse Challenge receivedmore than 30 submissions.
Consideringthe amount of effort required to gener-ate and implement an idea that meets thespecifications and develop a program thatoperates as desired together with the geo-graphical limits for entrants,
30 is a verygood number.
To capitalize on the large developmentpool, many organizations are runningtheir own contests. Legal issues must be carefully considered prior to runningthese contests because many countriesregulate contests. As a preliminary matter, organizationsmust determine any geographical limitsfor their entrants. For example, are sub-missions from residents of Russia or Can-ada acceptable? Legal counsel should beconsulted for each jurisdiction from whichsubmissions will be accepted to ensurethat organizations are properly comply-ing with any and all the requirements ina specific country. Consulting legal coun-sel is particularly important in this sphere because participants and winners are sub-mitting intellectual property (IP), whichmay be very valuable to the organization.Because the purpose of these contests is toown the submitted IP, it is necessary thatall legal requirements are met for a partic-ular jurisdiction to avoid any future chal- lenge to IP ownership.In the United States, contests must bestructured carefully to avoid being classi-fied as lotteries, which are generally illegalin the United States unless operated by astate entity. Lotteries are promotions thatinclude a prize, chance, and consideration.The types of submissions discussed in thisarticle are classified as contests becausethe prize is awarded on the basis of skill.In operating contests, organizations musttake care to avoid introducing the elementof chance. 
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Journal of Health Care Compliance — January – February 2012
Health Information TechnologyOrganizations also must draft rules, typi-cally dubbed “Official Rules,” for their con-tests. These Official Rules detail all of theentry requirements to participate in thecontest. At a minimum, the Official Rulesmust include the following:
 Eligibility Criteria 
. The eligibility cri-teria must specify the pool of individ-uals that are eligible to make submis-sions, including, for example, entrant’sage, residency status, geographic loca-tion, and so forth. Age is particularlyimportant in this context because con-tracts signed by those under the age of majority are not enforceable. Therefore,those under the age of majority cannotproperly assign their IP rights. In cer-tain U.S. states and Canadian provinces,the age of majority is 19.
. The Official Rules must clearlystate the name of the organization that issponsoring the contest as well as the or-ganization that is operating the contest if different from the sponsor.
Contest Dates
. The Official Rules mustclearly state the start and end date of the contest, including the time zone.These dates should be the same for allentrants, regardless of their method of entry. The Official Rules also shouldmake clear it is the sponsor’s systemclock that is the official method of time-keeping for the contest.
 How to Enter 
. The Official Rules mustclearly outline the methods of entry. If the organization is giving away prizes towinners that are chosen randomly andconsideration is present, then organiza-tions must offer a free method of entry,which is to be clearly identified in theOfficial Rules.
 Prizes and Odds of Winning 
. The Of-ficial Rules must clearly state the priz-es and the odds of winning each of theprizes. The prizes should be described indetail. Thus, for example, if the prize is atrip, the description must include the lo-cation of the trip, the length of the stay,and so forth. The description also muststate the total value of each of the prizepackages. Additionally, if the contest isopen to residents of Florida, New York,Rhode Island, or Quebec, Canada, thenthe organization must meet certain regis-tration and bonding requirements basedon the total value of the prize package.For example, if the total value of the prizepackage is more than $500, then priorto the start of the contest, organizationsmust file an application to register thecontest with the Rhode Island Office of the Secretary of State.
Similarly, if thetotal prize package is more than $2,000and the contest is open to residents of Quebec, Canada, then Canadian coun-sel must be consulted regarding the pay-ment of a “duty” or fee with the registra-tion application, translating the OfficialRules into French, and meeting certainother requirements set forth by the Ré-gie des alcools.
Selection of Winners
. The Official Rulesalso must state the date on which win-ners will be selected, the method used toselect winners, such as any judging cri-teria to be used, and who will be mak-ing these selections. For example, is thesponsor making the selections, or is thesponsor selecting experts in the field?The Official Rules also should make clearthat the sponsor’s winner selections arefinal and may not be challenged. Certainstates, such as New York, require thatthe winner lists be filed with the stateand that contest records be retained fora specific number of days. New York andRhode Island both require that materi-als be retained for six months after thecompletion of the contest.
The OfficialRules must provide details about how in-dividuals may obtain a list of winners.Other than the requirements listedabove, organizations should include a sec-tion detailing representations and warran-ties, indemnifications, and any necessaryreleases. Where the organizations are run-ning a contest involving the submission of IP, the Official Rules should make clear that
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