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ONC, HHS Announce Challenges at Health Datapalooza

May 9, 2016
by David Raths
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Open Science Prize announces six team finalists in first phase of competition

The 7th Health Datapalooza Conference in Washington, D.C., opened with several funding opportunity announcements designed to help overcome hurdles in data access and sharing.

Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the national coordinator for health IT, announced two new funding opportunities totaling $1.5 million to advance common standards: the High Impact Pilots (HIP) and the Standards Exploration Awards (SEA).

The HIP program fits within the ONC Tech Lab’s focus on pilots for standards and technology. Awardees will be able to test solutions, evaluate scalability, and identify the potential impacts of their selected standards and technology solutions. Priority Categories include: (1) Comprehensive Medication Management; (2) Laboratory Data Exchange; (3) Care Coordination; and (4) a Self-Identified category that allows the applicant to identify another area they believe the advancement of interoperable standards could be demonstrated. 

Under the SEA program, awardees will focus on specific categories and impact dimensions, and results will serve as a building block for future efforts. Further, the lessons learned and evidence generated by this Cooperative Agreement will help advance industry understanding of health IT’s potential. Applicants must first select a “priority category” to focus on and then choose specific “impact dimensions” that their project will address.  SEA awardees must choose a minimum of one impact dimension. The Impact Dimensions applicants can choose from are: (1) Practice Efficiency; (2) Clinical Quality; (3) Cost Efficiency; (4) Patient Experience; (5) Safety; (6) Privacy and Security; and (7) Interoperable Exchange.

Speaking at the Health Datapalooza, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced a challenge to encourage healthcare organizations, designers, developers, digital tech companies and other innovators to design a medical bill that’s simpler, cleaner, and easier for patients to understand. Stating that even as HHS Secretary, she often has trouble understanding bills, Burwell announced the "A Bill You Can Understand" design and innovation challenge, which is intended to solicit new approaches and draw national attention to a common complaint with the health care system: that medical billing is a source of confusion for patients and families.

The A Bill You Can Understand challenge, which is sponsored by AARP and administered by the design agency Mad*Pow, seeks to draw attention to the complexity of medical billing and how patients are impacted.  Winning designs will be featured at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference this September and on the challenge website.  In addition, the following organizations have committed to test or implement winning solutions for the patients they serve -

·       Cambia Health Solutions (Portland, OR)

·       Geisinger Health System (Danville, PA)

·       INTEGRIS Health (Oklahoma City, OK)

·       The MetroHealth System (Cleveland, OH)

·       Providence Health & Services (Seattle, WA)

·       University of Utah Health Care (Salt Lake City, UT)

Also on May 9, six teams were announced as finalists to compete for $230,000 in the Open Science Prize, a global science competition to make both the outputs from science and the research process broadly accessible to the public.

The volume of big data is growing at a rapidly increasing pace. Researchers’ ability to derive knowledge from data is hindered by their ability to find, access, and use it. The goal of the Open Science Prize is to support the development and prototyping of services, tools, and platforms to overcome these hurdles to ensure data can be used to advance discovery and spur innovation.

The 2016 Open Science Prize finalist teams are:

• OpenAQ:  A Global Community Building the First Open, Real-Time Air Quality Data Hub for the World – Providing real-time information on poor air quality by combining data from across the globe. 

• OpenTrialsFDA:  Making Unbiased Clinical Trial Data Accessible – Enabling better access to drug approval packages submitted to and made available by the Food and Drug Administration.

• Real-Time Evolutionary Tracking for Pathogen Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation – Permitting real-time analysis of emerging epidemics, such as Ebola, MERS-CoV, and Zika.

 • Open Neuroimaging Laboratory – Advancing brain research by enabling collaborative annotation, discovery, and analysis of brain imaging data.

• Fruit Fly Brain Observatory – Allowing researchers to better conduct modeling of mental and neurological diseases by connecting data related to the fly brain.

 • MyGene2:  Accelerating Gene Discovery via Radically Open Data Sharing – Facilitating the public sharing of health and genetic data through integration with publicly available information.

The finalists were selected out of 96 multinational, interdisciplinary teams representing 450 innovators from 45 countries. The recently launched competition involves collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust with additional funding provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Chevy Chase, Md.

Final prototypes will be submitted on Dec. 1, 2016, and will be demonstrated at an Open Science Prize Showcase to be held in early December 2016. The public will also be invited to consider and vote online for their favorite prototype. The ultimate Open Science Prize winner is expected to be announced in late February or early March 2017.