From the mHealth Summit: Join the Healthier World Innovation Challenge


I recently had the chance to attend the mHealth Summit in Washington DC and was struck by the advances we’re making in health communications thanks to wireless/mobile technology. Today’s average smartphone has more power than all the computers combined used in the Apollo Space program that put men on the moon. How can we maximize the use of this powerful tool in our pocket to impact public health? We’ve all seen how the internet has transformed healthcare communications, this is the next big evolution and it’s already well underway.

One great industry effort is being led by the Aetna Foundation. With chronic disease rates at an all-time high among underserved communities, the Aetna Foundation is looking for new ways to accelerate innovation and reach people directly where they live, work and play.  At the same time, we all know that technology can serve as a powerful equalizer to reach these same underserved communities and improve their health outcomes.

Leveraging digital health technology works at the community level to empower change and improve health. The Aetna Foundation is committed to raising awareness and fueling change in this rapidly changing arena.  These statistics tell the story of the increasing public health need and the unique way digital technology can offer people convenience and control to make healthy choices:

  • According to the CDC, heart disease and diabetes are two of the top 10 leading causes of death among African Americans and Hispanics
  • Research from the Pew Research Center shows that 84 percent of low-income adults have access to a mobile phone and one in three mobile phone users have used their phone to research health information.
  • According to Accenture, the vast majority of patients (90 percent) want to self-manage their healthcare leveraging technology, such as accessing medical information, refilling prescriptions and booking appointments online.

The Aetna Foundation is encouraging innovation through the Healthier World Innovation Challenge, a new initiative offering up to $4.5 million in grants designed to improve chronic health outcomes in underserved communities using technology that is readily available.

The Healthier World Innovation Challenge is a new initiative focused on using digital health innovation to improve chronic health outcomes in vulnerable communities.

  • Up to six organizations will receive up to $750,000 each over three consecutive years, and have the full support of the Aetna Foundation and partner organizations.
  • Challenge innovations will be implemented locally through pilot solutions in specific communities, and scaled nationally if proven effective.


  • The Healthier World Innovation Challenge will create solutions that will empower members of underserved populations to take control of their health with real-world solutions that fit into their everyday lives through technology they are already using.


  • All non-profit and community organizations with a 501(c)(3) status and state and local government agencies are eligible to enter the Healthier World Innovation Challenge.


Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Innovative use of developed technology in real-world interventions
  • Potential impact on underserved populations with high chronic disease prevalence
  • Demonstrated credibility and influence in their targeted communities based on the types and quality of partnerships and coalitions being presented
  • Engagement of community partners to help drive measurable health outcomes
  • Ability to track positive health change over a three year period through evidence-based approaches
  • Ability to scale for use across platforms in different community settings

User Generated Content: In addition to the criteria listed above, applicants are also asked to:

  • Share their Twitter handle and share a link to the Challenge page on Twitter using the #DigitalHealthGrants hashtag.
  • Sample tweet language: “We just entered to receive a grant from the Aetna Foundation to implement our digital health innovation. Learn how you can too [INSERT LINK] #DigitalHealthGrants”
  • If awarded a grant, winners will agree to share a 30-second “elevator” video, explaining what their organization’s innovation is and how they plan to use the grant. This video will be used in promotional videos and uploaded directly to the Healthier World Innovation Challenge page.
  • Share on additional social channels such as Facebook and Instagram and on bookmarking sites like Reddit and Stumbleupon.

 Enter The Healthier World Innovation Challenge:

  • Organizations interested in entering the Challenge can download information on Jan. 5, 2015.
  • Key deadlines:
    • Feb. 16, 2015, 5 p.m. EST – Deadline for receipt of Letters of Inquiry
    • March 20, 2015 – Notification of invitation to submit a full proposal
    • April 27, 2015, 5 p.m. EST – Deadline for receipt of full proposals
    • May 25, 2015 – Notification of awards
    • June 22, 2015 – Grants begin

Learn more at