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March 1, 2016
Contact: HHS Press Office

ONC Launches New Challenges to Spur Innovation for Market-Ready, User-Friendly Health Technology Apps for Consumers and Providers

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced today a three-part strategy to spur the development of market-ready, user-friendly software applications (apps) for consumers and health care providers.

While increased adoption of health information technology (health IT) has generated significant amounts of computable, electronic health information, technology that can pull information from different sources and present it in a user-friendly way is limited. HHS’s new strategy is designed to foster private sector innovation to help make health information available in user-friendly formats to enable consumers and providers to easily and securely access and share electronic health information.

The strategy includes two software app challenges with award prizes totaling $175,000 each: one focused on consumer use and one focused on provider use. Additionally, a competitive funding opportunity of up to $275,000 will support the development of an open resource to make it easier for developers to publish their apps and for providers to discover and compare them. The strategy will leverage the Health Level 7 – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard and the use of open, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs). Notably, ONC’s 2015 Edition Health IT Certification final rule includes API-related certification criteria.   

“This strategy will help us reach the consumer and provider-friendly future of health IT we all seek,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., national coordinator for health information technology. “It reflects our guiding principles that consumers and providers should have easy, secure access to health information and the ability to direct that information when and where it is needed most.”

These efforts are part of a larger community-driven movement toward helping consumers and providers benefit from the full potential of health IT and align with several policy objectives including the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap version 1.0, Interoperability Pledge campaign, and ONC’s Health IT Certification Program. The technologies developed through this initiative also have the potential to support other priority work such as delivery system reforms, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the National Cancer Moonshot, which depend on the availability and interoperable exchange of health data.

For more information on these new activities or other ONC’s programs, please visit Connecting and Accelerating a FHIR App Ecosystem.

For more information on this Funding Opportunity Announcement, visit: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281872.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: March 1, 2016

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