Contracted Projects

The 2014 PCORI Matchmaking App Challenge -- sponsored by PCORI and hosted by Health 2.0 -- provided an opportunity for developers to create ready-to-use web-based or smartphone-based apps that would facilitate links and spur collaborations among patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other stakeholders interested in health research and with clinical researchers. This opportunity built on the 2013 PCORI Challenge Initiative, hosted with Health 2.0, which asked developers to design concepts and prototypes of a "matching" mechanism connecting patients, stakeholders, and researchers interested in seeking funding for rigorous PCOR.

The first, second, and third-place winners of the 2014 PCORI Matchmaking App Challenge were announced at the 2014 Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

1st Place ($100,000): Sean Ahrens, Logo Banner

Sean Ahrens, a San Francisco Bay Area-based software developer and patient advocate, developed "," an open-source, mobile-friendly, online app that enables users to browse by condition, hold conversations through discussion threads, and submit research questions on which they hope to find collaborators. Researchers can readily identify and contact individuals interested in a particular condition to organize a study. Built on an open-source platform, the app invites other developers and users to improve and expand it and is available at no charge.

Take a Tour of and Meet Sean Ahrens

View Slides About

For information about the 2nd and 3rd place winners of the 2014 PCORI Matchmaking App Challenge, click here.


News Release - "PCORI Announces Winners of Patient-Researcher 'Matchmaking App' Challenge"

Blog Post - "High-Tech Matchmaking: PCORI Rewards Apps that Connect Patients and Researchers"

About the PCORI Matchmaking App Challenge

The 2014 Challenge submissions were judged by a 13-member panel of technology experts, PCORI staff members, and members of PCORI’s multi-stakeholder advisory panels. Submissions had to demonstrate how they would promote collaboration on topic prioritization, research question development, study design, and recruitment of study participants, among other goals.


The development of partnerships between patients, stakeholders, and researchers helps to build an infrastructure for patient-centered outcomes research, and achieve PCORI’s three strategic goals. The purpose of this challenge is to fund an innovative mechanism that increases access for patients, researchers, and other stakeholders to partner with each other to conduct patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR.) The elements of “partnership” in patient-centered outcomes research include:

  1. Topic generation and prioritization;
  2. Research question development;
  3. Research study methods design;
  4. Governance and structure of the research team;
  5. Recruitment of sites and participants; and
  6. Developing models of dissemination for the research results.

The ultimate objective of the winning app is to facilitate the creation of partnerships between patients, researchers, and other stakeholders. The winning entries must be able to address the full set of guidelines, as described on the Health 2.0 PCORI Matchmaking App Challenge website.


Evaluation criteria for all of the submissions are assessed on a Likert scale of 1 to 5. 1= Poor, 5=Excellent. Evaluation criteria include:

  • Program Fit: Meets the basic requirement of facilitating the creation of partnerships between researchers, stakeholders, and patients.
  • Creativity: Uniqueness and innovation in approach to fulfilling the mandatory requirements; the variety and value of additional features.
  • User interface and user experience (UI/UX): Overall look, feel of various displays and ease of use of all features.
  • Evidence of co-design: The inclusion of patients and stakeholders in the app design and development process.
  • Sensitivity: Demonstrated cultural awareness; consideration of the variety of potential users (PCORI’s priority populations).
  • Incentive: Impetus users have to download the app and return to use it frequently.
  • Past Performance: Evidence of the volume and quality of the app developer’s previous experience in creating technology solutions for community building; these do not need to be health-related (judged only from the "Past Performance" slide in the .PDF submission).

Review Process

  • Virtual Judging on Health 2.0's Online Judging Platform
  • Judging panel will include PCORI staff, patient and stakeholder representatives from PCORI’s Advisory Panelists and technology experts
  • Applications and mock-ups reviewed online
  • Quantitative/qualitative scores submitted online


  • Challenge Launch: March 24, 2014
  • Application Submission Deadline: August 15, 2014
  • Judging Begins: August 15, 2014
  • Judging Completed: August 31, 2014
  • Winners Announced: September 2014


$150,000 total prize purse

  • First Prize - $100,000 -- Payment schedule: 60% ($60,000) awarded upon winning the challenge; remaining 40% ($40,000) awarded upon publication to Google Play, the Apple iTunes store or other publicly available app store (subject to approval by the Sponsor).
  • Second Prize - $35,000 -- 100% paid upon award
  • Third Prize - $15,000 -- 100% paid upon award

Informational Webinar

PCORI hosted a webinar on April 30, 2014, to explain the history, motivation and guidelines for the Matchmaking App Challenge. Click here to view the archived webinar.

Posted October 8, 2012; Updated September 23, 2014

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