Health IT Research – New Innovation Communities

Wil Yu | October 5, 2010

As the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) carries out its mission toward a goal of nationwide achievement of meaningful use, I am mindful that we are also working toward a greater vision of improved individual and population health outcomes – a vision of a high performance learning health care system that leverages health information and technology, while protecting privacy and confidentiality, and encourages an infrastructure for robust care delivery and technology innovation.   Over the coming weeks, a number of events are being held in support of health care and technology innovation. These events are just a glimpse of the excitement and passion I am seeing take place across country, as multiple, disparate and powerful forces in the environment converge in support of improving and transforming health care.

Through my role in leading innovation programs and initiatives at ONC, I’m extremely pleased to see the steady growth of innovation communities – an essential requirement to creating sustained pathways for health technology innovation, especially in emerging fields such as data analytics and remote care management. These communities will hopefully bring together a diverse set of perspectives and backgrounds – beyond solely technologists – to include the full spectrum of stakeholders required for honest and practical discussion on the challenges of developing and adopting health technology.

In the spirit of community building around health technology innovation, ONC has launched several high-profile programs and initiatives. The Beacon Communities program will help to demonstrate the potential of advanced health IT to help achieve measurable improvement in the quality and efficiency of health services at a population level. SHARP – Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects – is an applied research program focused on achieving breakthrough advances to address well-documented problems that have impeded adoption of health IT. At a department level (HHS) and under the leadership of Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of HHS, we are taking action to improve health by making available a broad range of data sources under the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). These programs, along with a host of other initiatives (clinical decision support, personal health records, mHealth, and other areas) all seek to drive community building and will help to support private sector technology development.

Sustained health IT innovation will inevitably lead to improved clinical outcomes and system efficiencies. While improving the health of the nation, innovation has the potential to lead to improved quality of life and increased patient engagement in care delivery. It represents the promise of breakthroughs in medical research. Importantly, it has the potential to create new markets, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities. I believe that no matter what stakeholder lens you view health innovation through, drawing from a diverse community to calibrate the focus will allow for a clearer vision of the future and pathway to success.

Wil Yu, Special Assistant, Innovations (

ONC, Office of the Chief Scientist