New Innovation Opportunity Announced! HHS Innovation Fellows Program

Arnaub Chatterjee | June 25, 2012

Are you interested in solving the nation’s most critical health care problems?  The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) is looking for external experts and entrepreneurs to work on innovative projects through the HHS Innovation Fellows Program. The Innovation Fellows Program aims to bring external ideas and expertise to HHS’s own innovation process and rapidly create, develop, engage, and accelerate innovation.

The Innovations Fellows Program marries innovative opportunities and federal staff to innovative external experts.  The benefits for both parties are two-fold, the internal innovators receive expertise on an innovative project and external innovators receive a unique experience in government, solving some of the most critical issues this nation faces.

HHS is using the Innovation Fellows Program as a means to advance innovation internally at HHS and address some of the nation’s largest health care problems.  The projects that have been accepted for this first round include:

  • Accelerating clinical quality measures for the Affordable Care Act: Develop new clinical quality measures that incorporate information available in electronic health records to monitor the impact of the implementation of the HITECH Act (ARRA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • Designing the infrastructure for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility: Develop an electronic infrastructure that States can integrate to implement the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) method for determining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility that is required under the ACA.
  • Building “health resilience technology” to withstand natural disasters: Develop innovative solutions that will allow individuals with access and functional needs to continue to use their durable medical equipment (DME – includes medical devices powered by electricity, such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and intravenous infusion pumps) during prolonged power outages.
  • Devising electronic tracking and transport of the nation’s organ transplant system: Revise the existing organ system to improve identification, labeling, packaging, and transport of the nation’s organs and include electronic components for identifying organs and tracking their movement to minimize the potential for misdirection or other delays in organ transportation and reduce the chance of incorrect transplantation.

Each of these projects will greatly affect the status of the Nation’s health.

  • The clock is ticking, with 30 million additional American’s gaining access to affordable insurance coverage by 2014 and the simplification of the eligibility requirements across the Nation through the adoption of the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) requirements; States need a new eligibility system to determine income, household composition and family size.  Given the short timeframe for development and implementation, “MAGI in a box”, an electronic eligibility determination system, is a solution that could be developed and shared with States to help reduce the risk of States missing the January 2014 deadline.   This project will help millions of Americans and shape how people gain access to health insurance coverage.
  • The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) collects more than 8,000 organs from deceased donors and more than 22,000 organ transplants are completed annually through the OPTN each year.  Currently, organs are collected and tracked via paper and pencil methods with an estimated 10% of organs ending up in the wrong place.  In an effort to improve safety by eliminating the risk of manual transcription error, HHS believes that the revision of the OPTN organ identification, labeling, packaging and transport system to include electronic components will result in fewer lost organs and reduced chance of incorrect transplantation.  In addition to development, the external fellow will work with government officials on the adoption of the new system by the OPTN board.
  • Save lives now before potential disaster situations by assisting the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) find a solution that will allow individuals with access and functional needs continue to use their durable medical equipment (including medical devices powered by electricity such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and intravenous infusion pumps) at home during prolonged power outages, thereby decompressing the burden on the health care system.  The external fellow will likely use both technology and business approaches to tackle this complex problem.
  • Work at warp speed to help accelerate the development and adoption of new clinical quality measures that will incorporate information available in electronic health records to help HHS monitor the impact of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Clinical quality measures typically take 3 – 5 years to develop, but with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services transitioning to a value based reimbursement effort and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s investment in electronic health records, the time for new clinical quality measures is now.  Help HHS with the use of the Lean System.  Lean is a way of analyzing and organizing complex processes with many steps and people involved in a process- especially a production process.  HHS is looking for a Lean expert to lead a “value stream” analysis of the clinical quality e-measure production.

In this collaboration, HHS will provide Host and External Innovation Fellows the opportunity to receive mentoring, participate in roundtable discussions, and have direct access to a team of entrepreneurs, innovation experts, industry professionals and venture capitalists to support the Host Innovation projects.

For more information on each of the HHS Innovation Fellows Projects visit the Innovation Fellows Project webpage.

The HHS External Fellow application will be open to individuals outside the Department of Health and Human Services from June 20, 2012 – July 20, 2012. More information can be found on the HHS Open Government webpage.   If you have questions, please contact

Apply now for the opportunity to help millions of Americans!