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About - What is the Invent Health initiative?

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.


Examples

What if we could leverage our collective creativity to meet our most urgent needs in health and healthcare? What if clinicians could redesign medical devices to address basic problems? What if individuals, caregivers, or health care professionals could tweak or even re-imagine the medical equipment and assistive technology they use or administer every day?

A growing community of problem solvers within and outside of government are doing just that. Inventors today are also bringing unique experiences and skills in user-centric design, engineering, materials science, computer programming, or simple good old fashioned ingenuity and coupling it with an equally unique understanding of problems that impact the quality of our lives.

Invent Health celebrates those who are creating completely new devices as well as those improving or finding new uses for physical objects that already exist (think: MacGyver for health).



More Information

Interested in learning more?  Want to get involved?

Here are some great ways to get or stay connected:

  1. Did you miss our recent IDEA Lab Town Hall on Invent Health? Check out the event page for a snapshot of the day (video – coming soon).
  2. Follow our blog and on Twitter for more information on Invent Health (#InventHealth).
  3. Visit our posts (and future Invent Health blog posts) on Medium where we’ll take your comments and questions in the responses.
  4. Visit the HHS IDEA Lab Storify page for curated conversations around this topic.
  5. Ideas to consider? Email us – idealab[at]hhs.gov.

Events

As a part of our Invent Health Initiative, we’re facilitating a series of community events and structured engagements with stakeholders to help all of us to better understand how the maker movement will affect our work at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Here’s what we’ve been up to.

JOIN US IN JUNE FOR OUR UPCOMING EVENT 

Making Health: An Interactive Celebration of How Tinkering, Technology, and Design Tools are Transforming Healthcare

Georgetown University Leavey Center, Washington. D.C. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016. Doors open at 2 p.m. 

One example we’ve highlighted in this initiative spotlights an inventor  who created—and tested with the support of a grant from the National Institutes of Health—an assistive device that counteracts hand tremors, allowing people living with conditions such as Parkinsons to feed themselves.

MedStar Health, the HHS IDEA Lab, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invite you to an interactive event—part of the White House National Week of Making—where you’ll experience the hardware innovations and design tools—like the example above—that have led to the maker movement in health care, allowing people to live more independently, in better health, and with greater dignity.

For more information on this free event and to RSVP TODAY, visit maker.medstarhealth.org.


Space Matters in Health: Defining the Future of Healthcare Environments

University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

HHS, NASA, and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX, convened a symposium in April with a goal of exploring the common principles and problems of innovating within the resource constraints that are common in space and in health care settings. We learned many things, namely, that we all shared the same mission—to sustain human life in extreme environments (the outer banks of space, in the throws of a hurricane, or in a developing country). Read more about what we learned in these two blog posts from HHS Chief Technology Officer, Susannah Fox:


Town Hall: Invent Health

Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, D.C. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

We kicked off our Invent Health Initiative at the end of January with a Town Hall that brought together an all-star line up of inventors, federal employees and sage wizards hosted by HHS Chief Technology Officer Susannah Fox to talk about this growing movement of individual inventors and problem solvers who are creating tools, devices, and other physical solutions to home and clinical care challenges. Check out the agenda, the lineup, and videos from the event (we’re slowly adding them) here.


Where else has HHS Chief Technology Officer Susannah Fox spoken about the Invent Health Initiative? Check out the line up below:

HxRefactored
April 5-6, 2016
Also see: HHS CTO: Technology in healthcare is a Trojan Horse for culture change (mobihealthnews.com)

Invent It Challenge Launch
January 17, 2016
Also see: Kid Inventors Focus on Health (HHS IDEA Lab Blog)

We #MakeHealth Fest
October 25, 2015
Also see: #Making + #Health = #Innovation (hackernoon.com)

DiabetesMine Innovation Summit
November 20, 2015