A New Prize Challenge to Catalyze Health IT Innovation

Maya Uppaluru and Adam Wong | November 10, 2014

The health IT start-up sector is growing rapidly. Millions of dollars continue to be invested in innovations that most Americans could have never imagined 10 years ago. In the first quarter of 2014, nearly $700 million was invested in health technology – an 87 percent year-over-year growth External Links Disclaimer. A diverse array of web and mobile applications are changing the way patients and providers interact with the health care system.  These technologies accelerate the flow and availability of data, empower and engage patients in their care, and can help identify safety issues or errors before they occur.

Despite the rapid growth and investment in health IT, many startups still struggle to find pilot partners to build the evidence base that demonstrates their product works. For startups, acquiring such evidence is important not only to potential funders but also to their future customers – the health care systems, providers, patients, and payers.

At ONC, we are helping to support health innovators make these connections and demonstrate the value of their solutions to the market. Inspired by other federal competitions such as USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, we’re excited to launch a new type of Challenge program: the Market R&D Pilot Challenge External Links Disclaimer.

The Challenge calls on health innovators to pair with host sites, such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, or pharmacies to develop a pilot proposal. The program will select up to six teams to implement the pilot, conduct a rigorous evaluation, and disseminate its findings in collaboration with ONC.

Overall the Market R&D Challenge represents a $300,000, year-long commitment by ONC to promote innovation. The first half of the Challenge will focus on team creation, selection, and pilot preparation. Over the second six months, teams will run their pilot and produce an evaluation report for future learning. ONC will award $25,000 when the teams are selected, and another $25,000 following completion of the pilot and evaluation. Teams will be selected by April 30, 2015.

That’s not the only new effort to support health innovation. We’re excited to announce that we are also working with startup incubators around the country to host Health Innovators Bootcamps.  These bootcamps are full or half day trainings for the startup community on federal regulations, programs, and funding opportunities that can have a positive effect on their products. These bootcamps will tackle topics like privacy and security, open federal datasets, new payment models incentivized by the Affordable Care Act, and ONC’s technical standards for consumer information exchange.

At ONC, we understand and value the critical role that start-ups, developers, and entrepreneurs play in transforming America’s health care system. Helping improve care and health, at lower costs, will depend on the innovative technology solutions developed and tested by the start-up community.

Our door is always open – you can reach us via Twitter at @mayauppaluru and @adamkwong, visit our Google + page External Links Disclaimer, and keep in touch via www.HealthIT.gov.