Today, on the top floor of the Humphrey Building, we celebrated the completion of another cycle of ourHHSinnovates program.

For “Round 2,” we once again received outstanding nominations for HHS innovations deserving of special recognition.  As “Round 2” came to an end yesterday, Secretary Sebelius once again met with six winning innovation teams to give them awards and thanks.  And by extension, she was recognizing all of those who submitted nominations in this Round.

HHSinnovates is important because it does more than recognize innovation per se.  It explicitly recognizes and measures the value added by particular innovations.  By providing a structure of recognition, HHSinnovateshelps ensure that our innovative energy at HHS will be targeted on high-value goals.  And then, adding even more value, it gives wide exposure to good innovative ideas.  That way, good ideas from one program may not only build iteratively in the original area, but also take on second and third lives in other programs.

There’s no question that high-value results were on view at the HHSinnovates ceremony today:

  • With FDA-TRACK, the Food and Drug Administration is the first major federal agency deploying a public agency-wide web site for performance measurement.  This on-line tool gives FDA a common reporting structure, and it provides the public the ability to monitor progress on FDA goals and actions.  FDA-Track is a premier example of the transparency called for in the President’s Open Government initiative.  It sets a high new bar for government accountability.
  • The Indian Health Service in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration offered one of the three winning innovations that touch on the important area of Health Information Technology (HIT).  IHS created a new public health reporting tool that used de-identified information from electronic health records (EHRs) to provide near real-time surveillance of the H1N1 flu in American Indian/Alaska Native populations.  Real-time information of this kind is one of the most important benefits seen for HIT in the long term.
  • A team from the National Library for Medicine offered another important HIT application – a new function of its widely-used MedLine Plus information service.  “MedLine Plus Connect” enables consumers to connect instantly from their electronic health record (EHR) to comprehensive information at MedLine Plus about a health condition of treatment of concern.  It even helps health care providers meet one of the Meaningful Use objectives for earning incentive payments as they deploy EHRs.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) also looked ahead to electronic applications for improving quality in health care.  Its “MONAHRQ” software gives communities a ready-made tool for health care quality reporting.  It can also serve consumers as they seek out health care resources.  Here again is a web-based tool that can help turn data resources that may currently be “stove-piped” into usable, value-added information – all without requiring communities themselves to invent and re-invent software to do so.
  • device for early cataract detection is a classic example of collaboration on all fronts.  First, the device itself grew from the collaborative work of two scientists, one from the National Eye Institute and one from NASA, based on earlier space-related developments by NASA.  Next, with partnership established between the two organizations, the potential device obtained significant collaborative agency backing.  Now, with the device in the public arena, participation on a much larger scale becomes possible, including the possibility that principles involved in the device may help lead to significant treatment advances.
  • The “Ready, Cert, Go” process developed by the HHS Office of Human Resources adds value on another dimension – helping HHS itself run more smoothly and more efficiently.  The new process streamlines the hiring process throughout HHS for the most frequently needed positions.  It saves money and time, and it represents good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

These winning entries represent the high value that innovation can add.  They are practical, real-world applications.  They deliver better service, and they enable better service delivery by other entities as well.  They work to support broader Department and Federal goals.  The combine individual initiative and talent with organizational muscle.  And in many cases, they deliver on both near and longer-term goals.

All six winning teams answered the President’s call for innovation.  They also answered his call for a more Open Government, based on transparency, collaboration and participation.

Our HHSinnovates program is succeeding because it reflects some deep-seated human dynamics:  We rise to challenges.  We learn from each other.  We grow together.

Congratulations to all the winners!  Thanks for every nomination that was submitted for Round 2!  And now let’s do it again!

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