We Can’t Wait Update: Advancing Innovation in Health Care

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted May 08, 2012

From the electric light bulb to the Internet, American innovations have made lives better for people in this country and all over the world.

The kind of work we’ve done to advance technology, communication and so many other aspects of people’s lives is about to get a jump start in health care, thanks to today’s announcement of 26 Health Care Innovation Awards. The awards are part of our We Can’t Wait initiative.

“What America does better than anyone else is spark the creativity and imagination of our people," said President Obama during his 2011 State of the Union address, and that’s exactly what the Health Care Innovation Awards aim to do.  These awards provide our most creative minds—whether they’re health care professionals, technology innovators, community-based organizations, patients’ advocacy groups, or others—with the backing they need to build the strong, effective, affordable health care system of the future.  These are 26 unique projects, tailored to the needs of patients by local doctors, hospitals, and other leaders in their communities.

These awards will save $254 million over the next three years by testing innovative approaches to improve the quality of health care and prevent disease and illness. And we’re just getting started. We’ll announce another round of innovation awards in June.

Awardees are chosen not only because they had innovative strategies to get health care to some of our hardest to reach populations, but also because their programs are expected to help expand the well-trained health workforce we need for a strong and resilient economy, which is essential for quality care.

One of these projects is Emory University’s example of ingenuity—a collaboration that trains health professionals and uses tele-health technology to link critical care units in rural Georgia to critical care doctors in Atlanta hospitals.  The project aims to save money and improve the quality of care by reducing the need to transfer patients from rural hospitals to critical care units in Atlanta.

The Health Care Innovation Awards are investments in American innovation.  These new awardees represent America at its best.  We’re proud of the organizations that are part of this group, and—given the thousands of proposals that poured in when we first announced this program—we’re sure we’ve only scratched the surface of our ability to transform health care with this first set of awards.