ONC puts its money on health IT innovation

By Healthcare IT News
09:54 AM

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced June 8 the Investing in Innovations (i2) Initiative – a program designed to spur innovations in health IT.

As part of the program’s rollout, ONC has awarded nearly $5 million to the Capital Consulting Corporation (CCC) and Health 2.0 LLC, to fund projects supporting innovations in research and encouraging health IT development through open-innovation mechanisms like prizes and challenges.

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The initiative is made possible by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. The Act invests in innovation through research and development and seeks to improve the competitiveness of the United States.

The ONC program centers on prizes and competitions to accelerate the development of solutions and communities around key challenges in health IT.

“The initiative demonstrates ONC’s recognition of the importance of investing in innovations and provides a platform that will attract an expanded community of innovators to the full range of the agency’s programs, ONC chief Farzad Mostashari said. “It opens the door to new opportunities for open collaboration from a wide range of diverse individuals and organizations that will increase the national rate of innovation and adoption of health IT as we improve healthcare of all Americans.”

The i2 Initiative will consult stakeholders across the healthcare sector including hospitals, doctors, consumers, payers, states, employers, advocates, and relevant federal agencies to obtain direct input on execution and to build partnerships.

The core of the i2 Initiative is an effort to use prizes and challenges to facilitate innovation and obtain solutions to identified health IT challenges. President Obama has called on agencies to promote innovation by using such innovation tools to address intractable problems. The use of prizes and competitions is widely regarded as a powerful tool to attract innovators from all walks of life to address hard problems with the added benefit of only rewarding best-in-class work. The approach makes possible rapid response to emerging issues that are difficult to address with more traditional funding approaches.

Examples of health IT competition topics developed in consultation with CCC and Health 2.0 LLC, include:

  • Applications that allow an individual to securely and effectively share health information with members of his or her social network;
  • Applications that generate results for patients, caregivers, and/or clinicians by providing them with access to rigorous and relevant information that can support real needs and immediate decisions;
  • Applications that allow individuals to connect during natural disasters and other periods of emergency; and
  • Tools that facilitate exchange of health information while allowing individuals to customize the privacy allowances for their personal health records.

Another component of the i2 Initiative will support analysis of the current health IT environment in an effort to track and model clusters of innovation, while simultaneously identifying connections between disparate innovator communities. The effort will identify technology development trends in a fast-moving sector to inform future advisory and policy-making activities.

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Capital Consulting Corporation, Health 2.0 LLC, along with other contributors will help provide detailed and up-to-date analysis of relevant, emerging innovations and associated trends that will help ONC and other HHS agencies better understand these developments, as well as the issues that surround them.
“Through the i2 Initiative, ONC is directly supporting innovation in health IT to accelerate the nation’s progress toward a high-performing, adaptive health care system,” said Wil Yu, the special assistant for innovations within ONC.

For more information please visit ONC’s home page.