HHS names innovation award winners

Among them: a 3D print exchange for NIH that could speed health research advancement
By Mike Miliard
10:36 AM
Lightbulb and stethoscope

Fostering innovation "is critical to effectively addressing the challenges of today and delivering for those we serve," said Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell this week upon announcing seven winners of the 2015 HHS Innovates Awards.

[See also: HHS announces healthcare innovation fellows]

The annual award program recognizes creative solutions developed by HHS employees in response to some of the nation's most challenging problems in healthcare and government.

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"The HHS Innovates Awards Program empowers our teams with the resources they need to drive innovative solutions to deliver on our mission of providing Americans with the building blocks of healthy and productive lives," said Burwell.

Employees across HHS were invited to submit the innovative solutions they have developed. In this competitive process, candidates were judged both for innovativeness and potential application elsewhere in HHS and government. The winners of this year's awards:

  • The NIH 3D Print Exchange. An online portal to increase accessibility and exchange of 3D printing files to further scientific research. The goal of this tool, developed by the National Institutes of Health, is to empower researchers, physicians, and the public with high-quality, informative models that inspire new discoveries that transform science and healthcare. The exchange includes over 5,000 3D models that are freely available to the public. 
  • Transforming Health Provider Loan Repayment Programs. The reengineering of the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration has reduced the processing time of 3,200 loan repayment awards by 6 months, saved more than $3 million in taxpayer dollars, improved customer satisfaction, and boosted employee productivity since 2013.
  • Peri-Operative Surgical Home. The Indian Health Service Phoenix Indian Medical Center is improving the care of complex surgical patients by creating the processes, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and staff education necessary to safely deliver the highest standard of care to the most challenging patients in a cost effective way. Since its inception, this innovation has led to significant improvements in patient experience, outcomes and cost savings. 
  • The Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality. A platform for states to engage in collaborative learning together as 'cyberteams', apply quality improvement methods, and spread policy and program innovation – which in turn accelerates improvement in strategies that are influencing birth outcomes. This innovation was co-developed by Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Linking Healthcare & Community Services. A learning collaborative that makes it possible to break down barriers between medical and community services to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people. The Administration for Community Living's learning collaborative is making community organizations better business partners and linking healthcare and community services to better meet the needs of the people HHS serves.
  • Stretching NIH Research Dollars Further. Through providing free access to data and pay-per-use access to unlimited computing power, the Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse at the National Institutes of Health enables worldwide scientific collaborations to flourish with minimal startup and overhead costs. This innovative clearinghouse facilitates discovery neuroscience for researchers lacking the means for data collection and complex image analysis or wishing to replicate research to validate hypotheses.
  • Project Fish SCALE. Through the development, transfer, and implementation of innovative state-of-the-art forensic techniques, Project Fish SCALE (Seafood Compliance and Labeling Enforcement) addresses the Food and Drug Administration's critical need to rapidly and accurately identify seafood products during illness outbreak investigations, and to enforce proper labeling of seafood to prevent mislabeling and fraud.
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