Now, more than ever before, American ingenuity is being unleashed on some of our most vexing problems in health and health care. The Invent Health initiative seeks to empower inventors both inside and outside government to create tools for better living and better clinical care.
When we say inventors, we mean anyone who designs, builds, develops creative physical solutions (objects, wearables, devices) with an eye toward improving the health of themselves and others.
Small-scale inventors are creating solutions to home health and clinical care challenges to help people live more independently, in better health, and with greater dignity. (See the Examples section.)
Yet many of these innovators lack access to the tools and information that would help them explore, test, and take their ideas to scale. Government plays a vital role in this ecosystem. How might we serve as a platform to help overcome barriers? We also believe that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can provide data and resources to help spark interest in high-priority areas that would benefit from fresh perspectives.
Invent Health will also shine a spotlight on communities of innovators working with and inside government. Indeed, HHS is already engaged in work related to hardware innovation.
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently hosted a challenge competition in food safety that yielded five hardware innovations aimed at rapid detection of Salmonella. Also, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response sponsored a challenge competition to aid first responders who need to locate and prioritize people with electricity-dependent durable medical equipment who have lost power during natural disasters. And, at the National Institutes of Health, a team created the 3D Print Exchange to support networks of inventors who are creating tools for biomedical research. This platform also enables the sharing of designs for on-demand, low-cost prosthetics and assistive devices.
Invent Health advances the Secretary’s innovation agenda and the Department’s strategic goal to advance scientific knowledge, by highlighting and supporting a fast-growing ecosystem of inventors focused on the hardware of health and human services. By facilitating a series of structured engagements with stakeholders, Invent Health will identify key areas to help catalyze further innovation and help all of us to better understand how the maker movement will affect our work at HHS.
Interested in more background on the Invent Health Initiative? Click here.