The Market Transparency Project for Health IT Interoperability Services Cooperative Agreement Program

ONC has amended the application deadline to 11:59PM EST, August 1, 2017.  The purpose for this amendment is to extend the application due date to allow all interested and qualified parties to prepare a meaningful response for a cooperative agreement with such a significant and important impact to the agency and to maximize the scale and magnitude of the competitive process. If you have questions or need assistance in submitting your application package, please contact the grants.gov Help Desk at support@grants.gov or call 1-800-518-4726.

ONC is excited to announce a new cooperative agreement program called the Market Transparency Project for Health IT Interoperability Services Program, under the funding opportunity announcement No. NAP-AX-17-002. This funding opportunity announcement is designed to improve transparency in the current market by funding the development of an independent, open, online resource (e.g., an interactive website containing crowdsourced and voluntarily submitted data), whose design features and functionality is to be guided by market research to be performed by the recipient on costs frequently associated with health IT interoperability services. The online resource should make it easy for health IT consumers, third-party app developers, and health IT developers to voluntarily contribute cost data and other information about their health IT products and services and list them on the online resource. A crowd-sourcing methodology will also need to be developed, that specifically takes into account potential industry challenges and existing limitations that could keep individuals from voluntarily divulging their cost data (i.e., personal profit motives, restricted under confidentiality clauses).

The total funding available for Market Transparency Project for Health IT Interoperability Services Cooperative Agreement Program is $250,000 (1 award).  The award period is expected to be a 24-month period of performance.

Together with our future partner(s), we hope that this new program will result in increased industry-led marketplace transparency and awareness efforts, by spurring the development of a non-governmental, publicly accessible online resource for the voluntary reporting, viewing, and comparison of crowdsourced cost data associated with the wide range of health IT interoperability services. Some examples of industry-led, marketplace transparency resources available in other sectors include GlassdoorTrueCarAngie’s ListConsumer Reports, and Yelp.

Interested applicants are encouraged to view the recorded Information Session, which was conducted on Friday, July 14th, 2017.

The FOA is open from now until July 31st, 2017. Letters of intent are encouraged by July 17th, 2017.  Questions can be directed to ONC.TechLab@hhs.gov

FAQs

(Q1) Can you further define what it means for the resulting website and cost data to be "open" and "publicly accessible"? Given the requirement for a sustainability model, it implies that there can be fees associated with accessing the data. Are there any fee or revenue models that would not be considered acceptable?

(A1) During the period of performance, it will be necessary for basic access to the resulting website to be open and publicly accessible (post beta release). Once the period of performance is over, the awardee is free to do whatever they like with the resulting website. However, since the intent of this project is to increase cost transparency in the marketplace, it our recommendation that the sustainability model account for offering access to at least some of the summary data at no cost. Please review how other industry transparency resources are setup, which often include both a basic (free) access level, and a premium offering with additional access and insights for a nominal fee. (i.e. Glassdoor, Consumer Reports, etc.). It’s expected that the required market research will also assist in determining what data will be valuable, possible to collect, and what limitations will need to be accounted for.

(Q2) Validation as described in task 3 could have many components - validation of the identity of the data provider, validation that the data is accurate, complete, etc. Can you provide more specificity about what dimensions of validity need to be addressed? Can you specify if there is any minimum amount of data (i.e., equivalent to a "cell size") that will be required to report data for a given vendor for a given interoperability service?

(A2) By permitting “anonymous” self-reporting, we realize that validating the data may be difficult, and therefore will require an innovative approach towards ensuring overall data integrity. Just as “reviews” on Yelp need to be taking with a grain of salt, we expect that so will the data on this new website. However, Yelp and other sites similar to them, still make an effort towards ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the data on their site through a variety of different mechanisms. Examples may include (but not be limited to) requiring those who post/comment to first establish a user account (which can then be internally monitored for abuse and accusations of false reporting), have a detailed process for reporting claims of false or inaccurate data, and/or using a 2 (or multi) party verification system for transactions (like TrueCar.com does). In short, we understand that the data may not be 100% accurate, but still expect the award recipient to make every effort possible towards the integrity and accuracy of the data being shared through the resulting website. And ultimately, only having access to data on costs associated with health IT interoperability services with limitations/qualifiers, is still better than having no data at all.

(Q3) Interoperability encompasses a wide range of settings and use cases. Is there any guidance on a particular focus for this FOA - beyond the need to include ambulatory settings? Would an application focused on device interoperability be as competitive as an application focused on interoperability to support hospital-ambulatory care transitions? Are applications that try to take on more use cases but in less depth each considered more competitive than those focused on fewer but in greater depth?

(A3) The FOA states that at a minimum, applicants must focus on ambulatory settings. Additional areas of focus are permitted, but not required. Ultimately, we are looking for the strongest proposal towards improving cost transparency around Health IT services, and which, based on the details of the proposal, gives us the most confidence that it could actually be achieved.

(Q4) If awarded and the PI leaves the university, can the funding follow the PI or does it stay at the university?

(A4) The Cooperative Agreement will remain with the organization (not the individual) that applied and received the award.

(Q5) Could you please provide the registration information for Monday’s Webinar on the Market Transparency for Health IT Interoperability Services?

(A5) The recording of the informational session webinar is available here: https://econometricainc.webex.com/econometricainc/ldr.php?RCID=e0c6d2740d89ebfecaa9c9e100e5e2d5

(Q6) Our team is interested in applying for this grant and we have several questions. Would you be willing to speak with key members of our software development team over a brief phone call (10-15 min) next week?

(A6) All questions must be asked through the official email: ONC.TechLab@hhs.gov, and will be responded to through the FAQs posted here: https://www.healthit.gov/newsroom/market-transparency-project-health-it-interoperability-services-cooperative-agreement#faq

(Q7) Can you point us to where we can get a copy of the slides from last week’s webinar?

(A7) https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/mtp_information_session_-_webinar_slides_final.pdf

(Q8) It’s clear given the timeline for deliverables that the ONC has done some market research on which entities could meet this timeline. Can you please inform the audience of the prep work you have done for this Grant.

(A8) ONC has no pre-conceived notions of which entities or even type of organizations will be able to meet the timeline for deliverables. The FOA clearly states that eligible applicants include the following: Private nonprofit institutions/organizations, public nonprofit institutions/organizations, and private or for profit organizations with proven knowledge of and familiarity working with either Health IT interoperability services, developing online tools for crowd sourced reporting, or a combination of the two.

As stated in the FOA, the project builds off of findings from the 2016 Report to Congress on the Feasibility of Mechanisms to Assist Providers in Comparing and Selecting Certified EHR Technology Products, which was based on substantial market analysis and insight from subject matter experts, including the ONC Certified Technology Comparison Task Force. Additionally, ONC’s Report to Congress on Health Information Blocking helped inform the development of this project.

Content last reviewed on June 29, 2018
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