LEAPing into Action: New Awards Ignite Health IT Research and Care

Kevin Chaney, MGS; Tracy Okubo; Avinash Shanbhag and Teresa Zayas Cabán, PhD | September 23, 2020

Today, ONC announced the latest awards under its Leading Edge Acceleration Projects (LEAP) in Health Information Technology (Health IT) funding opportunity, which supports innovation to address emerging challenges and advance the development and use of interoperable health IT. These projects tackle creation of new standards, methods, and tools, such as application programing interfaces (APIs) and mobile applications (apps), to improve care delivery and advance research capabilities.

The 2020 LEAP in Health IT awards support projects in three areas of interest:

  1. Advancing Registry Infrastructure for a Modern API-based Health IT Ecosystem:
    Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), in partnership with the American College of Cardiology, aims to advance the health IT ecosystem through the accelerated adoption of modern standards — such as Health Level Seven International® (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR®) — both in the acquisition of clinical data for registry submission as well as the subsequent use of clinical data to improve care decisions.
  2. Cutting Edge Health IT Tools for Scaling Health Research:
    The MedStar Health Research Institute in collaboration with the Georgetown Medical Center will develop and evaluate open, FHIR-based health IT tools to support research. Tools to be developed and tested will support data acquisition, data transformation, and advanced analytics.

    The Boston Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Yale University and Yale-New Haven Health, will develop a FHIR-based platform that will support an ecosystem for research and learning by leveraging the HL7 Bulk Data API. Tools to be developed and tested will allow users to annotate FHIR data for analytics, de-identify data, and query cohorts.
  3. Integrating Health Care and Human Services Data to Support Improved Outcomes:
    The Missouri Department of Mental Health seeks to improve the capture and exchange of structured, electronic data across health and case management systems through implementing electronic long-term services and supports demonstration projects, conducting assessment data–mapping exercises, and assessing readiness and barriers that will inform a home and community-based services value-based payment roadmap. The roadmap will be geared toward building the foundation for an integrated information system linking clinical and case management information.

Leading Health IT Forward

Quickly identifying challenges and working toward scalable, innovative solutions enables us to better respond to health crises, coordinate day-to-day care, and accelerate scientific discovery. Since 2018, LEAP in Health IT projects have advanced new ideas and approaches to interoperable and scalable health IT.

Quickly identifying challenges and working toward scalable, innovative solutions enables us to better respond to health crises, coordinate day-to-day care, and accelerate scientific discovery.

Previous LEAP in Health IT awards focused on a variety of emerging challenges that were ripe for innovation. In 2019, there were two areas of interest. The first area focused on efforts to standardize, manage, and improve access to patient consent documents using HL7 FHIR. Through its award, the San Diego Regional Health Information Exchange (dba San Diego Health Connect) is developing a FHIR-based platform for managing many facets of consent—privacy, medical procedures, research, and advanced health care directives. As the organization builds and tests new ways to use health IT to address different aspects of consent, it will collaborate with partner institutions on using and scaling the solutions.

The second area of interest in 2019 included research efforts to design and develop patient engagement tools. The University of Texas at Austin received a LEAP in Health IT award to design and test a platform for a series of mobile apps that will engage patients who are underrepresented in healthcare and research. The project team aims to address privacy and security concerns for patients using the apps while allowing seamless data sharing among patients, providers, and researchers.

The 2018 LEAP in Health IT awards focused on two areas of interest: expanding the scope, scale, and utility of population-level APIs as well as advancing clinical knowledge at the point of care. Boston Children’s Hospital is using its award to create a new population health analytics application that aims to reduce or eliminate burdens on at-risk providers for reporting performance metrics to payors. The other 2018 awardee, MedStar Health Research Institute, is transforming isolated risk calculators into open, standards-based applications that work across health IT platforms and providers to improve clinical workflow, care coordination, and patient engagement. Stay tuned for more information about the outcomes for the 2018 projects in upcoming blog posts.

Taken together, ONC’s LEAP in Health IT awardees are advancing efforts to ensure healthcare stakeholders can leverage the latest technological breakthroughs and optimize real-time solutions that speed research progress and improve patient outcomes.

Read the press release about the LEAP in Health IT project

Visit HealthIT.gov to see detailed information for each of the projects