Open HHS Blog
E.J. Holland Jr., Assistant Secretary for Administration
We are excited to announce the next cohort of HHS Entrepreneurs. For the past four months we have been scouring the nation to find the best talent to bring into government to be part of a team that will take on some of the biggest challenges we face in health care and government. We have matched up the best and the brightest to bring a new way of problem solving into government. HHS Entrepreneurs is a team based approach to problem solving, relying on the blending of expertise, new methodologies and experimentation.
We have already seen past successes with the first cohort of HHS Entrepreneurs, including reducing the clinical quality measure development process from three years to three months, prototypes developed for to improve health resilience technology in disasters and the efficiency of the organ transplant system and the development of an open source modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) rules engine and application programing interface that states can use to facilitate (MAGI) eligibility determination.
Continuing the wave of innovation at the Department, the next cohort of HHS Entrepreneurs is set to take on a whole new set of challenges. We are happy to welcome six new entrepreneurs to the federal workspace to work on five exciting new projects. The projects and the new innovators are:
Application of Design Thinking to Grants: The Administration for Children and Families Office of Family Assistance (OFA) seeks to improve grantee program implementation to better meet the needs of the low income populations that OFA serves through the creation of a low cost replicable methodology to better assess grantee client problems.
- Jared Goralnick, Entrepreneur and Design Thinking Expert, San Francisco, California
- Amy Ng, Established Design Engineer, San Francisco, California
- Stan Koutstaal, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children & Families
- Blair Corcoran, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children & Families
- Keyon Smith, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children & Families
- Kathleen Chiarantona, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children & Families
- Amelia Popham, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children & Families
Cloud-Based GIS Maps Displaying Aggregate Data on Medical Malpractice: The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) seeks to build a public-facing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map application that displays medical malpractice data to allow researchers and the general public to better view, analyze, and understand this information to support the development of novel tools and strategies improve patient safety and protection.
- Krishna Malyala, Self-Starting Entrepreneur, Piscataway, New Jersy
- Ernia Hughes, Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration
- Seth Marcus, Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration
- Harnam Singh, Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration
Health Information Exchange Accelerators: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) seeks to accelerate health information exchange (HIE) by developing new tools that can reduce HIE implementation effort and cost for a wide range of health care entities including those that are not eligible for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive programs.
- Mark Monterastelli, Seasoned Information Technologist, Tiburon, California
- Claudia Williams, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT & White House Office of Science & Technology Policy
- Erica Galvez, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT
- Paul Tuten, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT
Modernizing the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System: The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) seeks to improve the existing National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) to improve usability, scalability and data quality.
- Alan Viars, Accomplished Web Developer, Morgantown, West Virginia
- Peter Budetti, Deputy Administrator for Program Integrity, Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services
- Zabeen Chong, Director, Provider Enrollment Operations Group, Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services
Publication Planning and Clearance Process Improvement: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs seeks to re-engineer its publications planning and clearance process to better meet the needs of a communications landscape dominated by digital and social media.
- Kristann Orton, Innovation Consultant, Point Roberts, Washington
- Mark Weber, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration
- Gloria Barnes, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration
- Will Jenkins, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration
To follow their progress please visit: http://www.hhs.gov/open/index.html
Now Soliciting Feedback on the Strategic Vision for Innovation at the Department of Health and Human Services
I am excited to announce the first draft of the HHS Strategic Vision for Innovation is now available for comment!
Four years ago, through the efforts of the Open Government Initiative, the Department started to make significant strides in changing the culture of government by embracing transparency, collaboration and participation concepts. As we have continued to build on those foundational concepts, we have encouraged dialogue and risk-taking behavior and rewarded employees who are passionate for innovation. In line with the President’s 2013 Management Agenda, we continue to advance the innovation agenda at the Department, we are not only focusing on empowering today’s workforce but also nurturing the next generation of HHS leadership and building a workplace culture that will attract the best and brightest minds and transform how health and human services are provided.
To help guide this transformation going forward, with the input of many, we have developed the Innovation at the Department of Health and Human Services: Strategies to Empower HHS Employees and Build a 21st Century Workforce of Problem-Solvers vision. This document defines new approaches that build on the success of the last four years and describes our vision of employee empowerment and engagement. In the document you will find five guiding principles that we have identified for enabling this transformation, a new definition of the term “innovation” and draft goals and metrics for our overarching goal and for each of the CTO managed programs.
We are inviting you to comment on the vision that will help guide our progress over the next three years. We are currently soliciting feedback on the document until 8 PM ET on July 31, 2013. The entire document is available below and is also split up into sections. On the feedback forum you can provide your comments on the entire document or just on a specific section. One of the foundational aspects of the innovation agenda is transparency in government – with that, we want your feedback. We encourage you to provide your feedback now! Provide your feedback here.
Now Open! Apply to Work on High Impact Projects in 2nd Annual Talent Search for the HHSentrepreneurs Program
Identifying and leveraging underutilized Departmental assets to encourage the transformation of public health, healthcare, and the delivery of human services, and, by doing so, building the foundation for the next generation of government and improving health care for all Americans – this is what my team and I working to do.
The HHSentrepreneurs Program is a key component of this strategy. Launched last year, HHSentrepreneurs connects outside experts and entrepreneurs from outside federal government with internal innovators to work on high-risk, high-impact projects that address some of the biggest challenges in health, health care and human services.
In the first year of the program, I have seen some considerable gains at the Department ranging from significant changes in culture to some serious results and progress on our first four projects.
For example, Mindy Hangsleben is an expert in Lean Methodology who came to federal government to improve the process for developing metrics of the quality of providers which incorporate information available in electronic health records. What Mindy has been doing for the past eight months is systematically changing the way two organizations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) develop their measures; a process that involves multiple internal and external stakeholders and can take up to 3 years to develop. One of Mindy’s first focuses was to apply the lean methodology to a process where there was a 100% defect rate. Literally every product that was created had to get through and be re-worked. We were excited by this – there was nowhere to go but up!
What Mindy has done is amazing. She has taken two government agencies with an incredibly bureaucratic process, and streamlined it by empowering Federal employees to use Lean methodologies. In addition to changing the process of developing quality measures, she has evangelized the value of Lean techniques to federal employees. So now, not only are CMS and ONC staff requesting her assistance to improve many other processes and procedures, but Mindy is also making Lean experts out of a group of employees as well.
Going into this next round, we expect even bigger and better results. Based on our first cohort, we have increased the scope of the projects and are now ready for external experts to apply. We are looking for highly talented professionals from non-federal backgrounds such as business, industry, and academia who seek to bring successful innovation experiences, models, and business practices to the Department.
In round two there are a total of six projects:
- Application of Design Thinking to Grants: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Family Assistance (OFA) seeks to improve grantee program implementation to better meet the needs of the low income populations that OFA serves through the creation of a low cost, replicable methodology to better assess grantee client problems.
- Cloud-Based GIS Maps Displaying Aggregate Data on Medical Malpractice: The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) seeks to build a public-facing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map application that displays medical malpractice data to allow researchers and the general public to better view, analyze, and understand this information to support the development of novel tools and strategies improve patient safety and protection.
- Health Information Exchange Accelerators: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) seeks to accelerate health information exchange (HIE) by developing new tools that can reduce HIE implementation effort and cost for a wide range of health care entities including those that are not eligible for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program.
- Modernizing the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System: The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) seeks to improve the existing National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) to improve usability, scalability and data quality.
- Predictive Analytics: Merging Innovation and Business Operations: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) seeks to leverage the field of predictive analytics to generate predictive risk models to proactively manage grants across HHS Operating and Staff Divisions.
- Publication Planning and Clearance Process Improvement Project: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) seeks to re-engineer its publications planning and clearance process to better meet the needs of a communications landscape dominated by digital and social media.
You can apply to participate in the HHSentrepreneurs Program here. If you want to know more about the experience the current external entrepreneurs are having, check out the HHSentrepeneurs blog and if you are on Twitter, be sure to use the #HHSentrepreneurs hashtag. If you have questions about the application process or the six new projects, tweet us a question at @healthdata.gov.
The scores are in. Secretary Sebelius has reviewed the 13 finalists, and I am happy to announce that the “beta” class of HHSignite has been selected. Congrats to the 13 teams!
These teams represent 78 individuals across 9 different Operating Divisions. Their proposals range from sustainability and workforce development efforts, to process efficiencies and the testing of new technologies. You may have noticed that we said that “13” were selected. The original plan was to support only “up to 8”. However, the proposals given to the Secretary were of such high quality that she decided to support all the ones she was shown.
While the 13 proposals selected as part of the “beta” class met a caliber of innovation and were scored among the highest by a group of judges, the other 52 projects should be noted. Those proposals represent a bank of ideas that are still out there to be acted upon.
Therefore, we are making the non-selected proposals available to all HHS employees on the HHS internal Yammer Network. We hope that by simply making them available to the HHS community, connections can be made to spark further conversations and many of the ideas could be carried forward. (Note: We have given each applicant the opportunity to opt-out, and a few did choose to do so.) There’s no reason why the ideas submitted shouldn’t have other opportunities to move forward. We want the government workforce, the employees of HHS, to continually share their good ideas to be experimented, iterated, and refined – that is the culture we’re pursuing through programs like HHSignite.
We are also releasing the raw data file (XLS) and methodologies that yielded our results, presenting them in a way that respects both the applicants and the reviewers. We are confident that we weren’t perfect. Our paper-based process (and a reminder that we only anticipated 20 proposals in the first place) had many human-driven steps that left plenty of room for error. But we hope you help us find those errors so that we can incorporate the lessons learned into an improved next iteration.
I look forward to seeing where this first class of HHSignite takes us. One thing I do know: There are going to be a lot of iterations, experimentations and lessons learned for these groups. But we will all learn from their examples, as this is simply a microcosm of a larger effort to iterate, experiment and gather lessons learned in how to make health care and government better.
Health Datapalooza IV has officially wrapped and with over 1900 attendees and 80 companies, this was the biggest palooza yet. Kicked off by Secretary Sebelius for the second year in a row, this year’s event was a tremendous display of health data in action.
Looking back now, it is amazing to think that four years ago this all started with 45 people in a small room at the Institute of Medicine. Over the course of those four years the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has liberated over 400 datasets, participated in a countless number of codeathons, and has seen and helped developers build hundreds of apps, services, and products using health data.
At HHS, we have evolved and improved how we make health data available to the public. Last year, we launched a new version of healthdata.gov and made it significantly easier for our internal publishers to get their datasets listed, both manually and through an application programming interface (API). We've added the ability to generate APIs from any dataset that's stored directly in our database; TXT4Tots is the most recent example of this. And lastly, building on the Presidential Open Data Executive Order, we’ve made data more discoverable by releasing our healthdata.gov/data.json file. This will make it very easy for other data catalogs to consume the records in Healthdata.gov, allowing for the easy spread of open health data. We even open-sourced the CKAN extension that generates the data.json file on Project Open Data .
This year at Health Datapalooza we featured a Data Lab Session with HHS’s Health Data Leads. The Health Data Leads are subject matter experts who are changing the culture of data liberation at HHS by identifying and releasing new data sets, describing the context of data and providing insights into its use, and providing data education to entrepreneurs. This session highlighted datasets from a number of HHS agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and more.
In addition to the work we have done to make it easier to find and access HHS data, we have launched a number of new data-use opportunities over the past year. We have challenged entrepreneurs and tech developers to take our data and create apps to help mothers and children live healthier lives with the TXT4Apps Challenge; we have asked people to mash up air-quality data with individual health data with the My Air, My Health Challenge; and we have just launched the new Blue Button CoDesign Challenge . This challenge aims to increase the number of consumer-facing applications able to receive clinical data via Blue Button Plus. This challenge will also uniquely engage the patient community to teach us what patients most want to do with their clinical data by crowdsourcing application ideas and incorporating patients in product design. You can participate too: submit your idea at http://ideas.healthtechhatch.com by June 11.
This Administration has been focusing on empowering Americans’ with access to their own personal data. The Administration has launched My Data Initiatives across multiple sectors including health, energy, and education. In the health domain, thanks to Blue Button, some 88 million Americans now have access to a digital copy of their health records or health claims from Federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and private health plans such as United HealthCare and Aetna. This past year, HHS partnered with industry to advance the next generation of Blue Button—making the data machine-readable and able to be transmitted securely to consumer applications. Sixty-eight health technology companies and organizations (including electronic health record companies, health plans, and patient privacy organizations) collaborated on this next version of Blue Button, called Blue Button Plus—which will serve as a blueprint for the automated, structured, and secure transmission of personal health data on behalf of a patient. In February 2013, the Blue Button Plus Implementation Guide was published.
Lastly, coming out of this years Health Datapalooza, we have three asks of you.
- Help consumers make smart decisions on health insurance - Think about how you can use your talents to connect people with health insurance. Develop an app to help us provide consumers with even more ways to calculate costs and pick a plan that fits their budget. As part of the health care law, we are making information about health plans more transparent and accessible.
- Increase the availability of local health data - Help us encourage the private sector and state and local governments to make local health data more available. While we have seen progress so far in this area, more can be done.
- Adopt Blue Button Plus - We are encouraging all providers and health plans to adopt Blue Button Plus to make it even easier for consumers to download their health information. An "automated" Blue Button could create a new ecosystem of consumer applications that empower individuals and their families to better manage their health and health finances.
If you missed the excitement of the Health Datapalooza this year, the next one is already set for June 1 – 3, 2014, in Washington, DC. See you there!
Thinking about submitting a proposal? Not sure what your project would look like? Here are some things that HHSignite (beta) can help you do:
- Build something
- Build a small-scale model of that something
- Change a status quo process
- Run a pilot of that process change
- Change a methodology to problem solving or product development
- Test that methodology and compare the results to baseline
- Help bring staff and resources from other offices together to address a cross-Agency challenge
- Provide needed visibility and support
- Compliment other funding towards a larger new effort
- Connect with innovation leaders across HHS
- Learn from innovation experts in the private sector
Your proposal should strike the right balance between impact and viability. While there are plenty of grand problems to solve, processes to change, and tasks to implement, your challenge is to scale down a project into one that fits the scale and scope of the initiative.
For example, you may want to just test a few variations on a workflow and measure the effects. Or instead of fully implementing a new program, you can run a pilot to work out the kinks. Or rather than engineering a solution to a big problem, you could use the HHSignite program as a platform to highlight the issues, get outside expert advice, and build a team towards a trial run.
Your proposal should demonstrate individual and Agency commitment which can come in many flavors. On way is to ensure that you have a team that accurately reflects the task at hand. If you’re interested in starting an intervention at community clinics, having someone from a community clinic on your team is probably a good idea. Similarly, building a team of individuals from multiple agencies, or including support from an outside organization, speaks volumes to the viability of the idea and its potential to scale, as does bringing additional funding or resources into the project.
Your proposal should clearly define the problem and delineate what is needed to address it without necessarily scripting out the grand solution. Projects selected by the Secretary will be provided trainings, tools, and a community that can help you try out one or more ways to solve that problem.
HHSignite (beta) is part seed-fund but also part incubator. Therefore it’s important to note that the selected teams will have certain expectations beyond simply carrying out their proposed plan and periodically reporting in. Teams will be accountable to other teams. There will be regular reporting. Individuals will be asked to provide thoughts on projects other than their own. Experts will be brought in to provide guidance and help shape plans, a community of support will be instilled, but the project management is ultimately up to the host office.
By infusing smart people with community, tools, accountability, support and yes: a little money, we can begin to build the pipeline of solutions to the greatest challenges of HHS. On May 15th we cease accepting proposals and begin judging them in preparation for their delivery to the Secretary. She’ll make the final selection for which projects to ignite. We hope that yours is in the mix.
HHSignite is now accepting proposals for its ‘beta’ class. Think you may have an idea worth igniting? Talk to your neighbors, and reach out. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the HHS Yammer group (an HHS internal link) to connect with others and read about some example projects.
At the end of the HHSinnovates Awards Ceremony yesterday, a new initiative was launched: HHSignite (beta) is an internal competitive seed-funding opportunity to test new and unconventional ideas at HHS.
This initiative is intended to compliment HHSinnovates - which recognizes the achievement of innovative projects - by providing incentives and support to test ideas that haven’t yet been implemented anywhere in the Department.
HHSignite is about testing of new concepts to gain evidence for solutions to mission-related challenges. Been wanting to try out a new tool that increases the accessibility of your internal documentation? Wanted to attempt to automate a process that has thus far involved a tedious manual process? Overall frustrated with the status quo operation you’re in and think you have an idea on how to improve it?
This pilot of HHSignite hopes to support up to 8 innovative concepts with budgets of $10,000 or less that can be completed within 6 months.
We’re looking for ideas that are new to HHS. While the ideas themselves may be grand - even revolutionary - the proposals we’re looking for must fit into the 6 month window. The challenge then becomes: How do we whittle down the grand ideas into testable bites?
There are no shortage of ideas, but for ideas to have real value there must be evidence that it can work. Supporting this idea-validation step of the larger idea-to-solution process is what this program is about.
We’re looking for early steps of concepts entirely new to HHS that are directly related to supporting the Secretary’s priorities. Proposals could also go towards a process already underway but looking to take an unconventional next step. Either way, we take the definition of “new to HHS” seriously. (Certainly feel free to steal from outside of HHS!) Proposals should be for proofs-of-concept, and are early stage product developed simply for validation.
It’s only fitting that this pilot of HHSignite is itself a test. That’s why we’re calling it beta. We hope to validate the concept of and the processes required for direct internal investments within HHS.
In addition to the actual funds, HHSignite teams will get consultations with Department leaders, introductions to the HHSentreprenuers, and interactions with the top innovators at HHS. This community, anchored by the HHS Innovation Council, is going beyond talking about ideas. These individuals are working across their agencies, across the Department, and across their professions to work together in improving the way we carry out the HHS mission.
Awardees will also get exposure to and - depending on the concept being tested - experience in methodologies such as lean startup and agile development. These flexible approaches to problem solving are essential tools that recognize the dynamic and highly interconnected world of today.
We encourage everyone to look at the work they do and ask themselves what can be done to improve our current processes, technologies and services. In fact, every one of us can think of a status quo operation that could use a little disruption. And by bringing the best ideas of HHS employees to the forefront and testing them, we’ll begin to build the pipeline of solutions to those nagging problems, answers to those persistent questions, and advancements towards revolutionary breakthroughs. We’ll improve the efficiency and efficacy of what we do. And all towards the continual betterment of the Americans we serve.
And just like that, another fantastic round of HHSinnovates has wrapped up. It was only six months ago that we were celebrating the six finalists from round five. In the months since the last round of HHSinnovates, we have seen some amazing progress in the adoption of innovation and experimentation at the Department.
At the last HHSinnovates awards, Secretary Sebelius announced the launch of HHSconnect, an internal collaboration tool that allows employees to connect with one another and share information and ideas. Today, there are more than 10,000 Department employees using HHSconnect to collaborate, find resources and solve problems.
Since the last round of HHSinnovates, the HHSentrepreneurs Program has been in full swing; a program that pairs up innovative employees with experts outside government to tackle some of the Department’s toughest challenges. The progress that has been made on the projects to date has been amazing. I have seen firsthand what happens when you bring people in from the outside who are unencumbered by the bureaucracy – they teach the internal people that challenges to the status quo are ok and that they are free to experiment. A great example of this was when External Entrepreneur for the Clinical Quality Measures Project, Mindy Hangsleben, held a Kiazen Event. A Kiazen Event is something very unique to Lean methodology and participants found that there was some major inefficiency in how we develop quality measures. You can read all about Mindy’s experience and the experience of all the External Entrepreneurs on the HHSentrepreneurs blog. We are now accepting applications for internal projects for round two of HHSentrepreneurs until April 1st, which can be submitted here.
While we have made some major advancement in providing pathways for people to experiment and innovate, we have seen that there is still a need for more. Today, Secretary Sebelius announced the launch of HHSignite. HHSignite is a new internal competitive seed-funding opportunity that gives HHS employees the opportunity to test new and unconventional ideas. It is a way for HHS employees to act on that great idea that they have been holding on to for months, or maybe even years. HHSignite is where an employee can apply for resources by proposing their idea. More information on HHSignite is coming, so stay tuned.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate the six finalists for round six of HHSinnovates. Once again, I have seen some amazing talent and creativity in the Department. For those who believe that government is old and stale, I challenge you to look at these six projects and the other 30 finalists in the HHSinnovates gallery, all of which rely on ingenuity, resourcefulness and the willingness to experiment.
I would like to congratulate the three project teams from the Administration for Community Living and National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s project, Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Anti-Counterfeit Device project, and the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and HBO’s Weight of the Nation Campaign project for being selected as the Secretary’s picks. I would also like to offer my congratulations to the three other project teams from, the FDA-iRISK project, Indian Health Services’ Portal System: Linking Healthcare Clinics project and the NIH Body Weight Simulator project for being honorable mentions. Lastly, a special thank you to everyone who voted for the People’s Choice Award; this round, the award went to the Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s Project.
In six short months we have made some great progress in the adoption of new methodology and the willingness to experiment in the Department but we are nowhere near finished. Innovation and experimentation are truly going viral at HHS and I can’t wait to look back in six more months to see more ideas, efficiencies and solutions that will ultimately improve healthcare.
18,000 - that is the number of individuals who voted the last time we asked the public to vote on which innovation would receive the People’s Choice Award. We are, once again, proud to announce that public voting for the HHSinnovates People’s Choice award is now open.
In its sixth round, the HHSinnovates program is showing us that HHS employees have come up with a variety of new and interesting solutions to solve some of the most complex issues facing the health care industry, both inside and outside of government. One of the most fascinating aspects of HHSinnovates is hearing stories from the individuals who decided to experiment and innovate; learning about their motivation, and how they went about it.
One interesting story is from a finalist in the last round of HHSinnovates. One day, on a morning run, Gwen Shinko, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was thinking about how resources could be utilized more efficiently among the laboratories at NIAID. On her run, an idea came to Gwen: to create an internal supply exchange that would facilitate the sharing of surplus equipment and supplies between laboratories. With her idea in mind, she rounded up an enthusiastic young scientist who had returned to school for an MBA and was looking for an interesting project, as well as a developer and designer to help create this exchange called NIAID FreeStuff. Their idea not only resulted in economic savings and waste reduction, but is now being rolled out NIH-wide. In the first six months, it is estimated that over $30,000 was saved as a result of this tool!
Like Gwen, each of our six finalists has their own story. Each has identified and developed new solutions for complex problems, ranging from battling the scourge of counterfeit drugs, to combating obesity, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, to ensuring food safety, to better training our workforce. You can learn more about the finalists and their projects at the HHSinnovates Gallery.
From this fantastic pool of six finalists, only one will be chosen as the People’s Choice, and your vote can help choose the winner, so vote today!
Public voting begins today and runs through March 10, 2013. See two projects that are worthy of your vote? Feel like you just can’t decide which project is the best? The good news is that you can vote for each of the projects. Let us know which ones you like by voting.
The winner will be announced at the HHSinnovates awards ceremony on March 19, 2013 from 11:00 – 11:30 AM EST, and will be telecast on http://www.hhs.gov/live
On Monday September 24, 2012 Secretary Sebelius announced the winners of the fifth round of the HHSinnovates Program and the winner of the first ever “People’s Choice Award”. For this competition, we saw projects initiated by numerous offices and agencies across the Department.
For the first time ever, the HHSinnovates Program featured a “People’s Choice Award”, in which all six finalists were showcased for public voting. The results were astronomical; nearly 18,000 votes were cast and more people than ever before were exposed to the great innovations led by HHS employees in collaboration with our partners. The three projects selected as the Secretary’s picks were the Food and Drug Administration’s 100,000 Genome Project, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Health Service Corps Jobs Center, and the Center for Disease Control’s Coal Dust Explosibility Meter. In addition to being a Secretary’s pick, the Coal Dust Explosibility Meter was selected for the first ever People’s Choice Award. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Friedan, personally accepted this award on behalf of his agency. The three projects that were honorable mentions are the Indian Health Services’ Online Food Handler Training Project, the National Institutes of Health’s RePORT, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Free Stuff.
In consultation with innovators, important and interesting lessons learned were identified.
- Fail and fail fast – Fail? A concept not usually embraced in government, but the HHSinnovates program encourages risk-taking and the innovative spirit. As noted at the awards ceremony by Dr. Thomas Friedan, “Fail early and fail often so long as we know we’re failing so we can adjust our way of working because ultimately we are going to be successful by getting that feedback loop and iteratively improving the effectiveness of our work. Innovation is about continuous improvement.” A key strategy used by many of our innovation teams was to divide their projects up into phases and to test out each phase as quickly as possible in order to discover the “failures” and correct them as expeditiously as possible.
- Persistence Pays Off – There were six finalist teams in the fifth round HHSinnovates, out of an initial pool of 62 nominations; some of those submissions were from applicants who had previously submitted their project. Those who resubmitted solicited input from the review team and improved their submissions and worked with others in their agency.
- Don’t stop innovating because you did just enough – This has been a reoccurring theme for many of the finalists from the previous five rounds of HHSinnovates. After being selected as an HHSinnovates finalist, many of the teams don’t stop innovating, they continue to work on their project to make it better, be it increasing functionality or making it scalable. For example, of the most recent finalists, NIAID’s Free Stuff project team already has plans to scale their project to other parts of NIH, which may lead to savings of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, the HHSinnovates program celebrates HHS employees who solve critical problems, think in creative ways and implement innovative practices; just because the awards ceremony is over doesn’t mean teams stop progressing and innovating.
The next round of HHSinnovates starts October 22nd, with public voting occurring later this winter. To watch the awards ceremony in its entirety and for more information on all past winners of the contest go to the HHSinnovates page.
Congratulations to all the participants!
Last month the Department of Health and Human Services received nearly 100 applications for its new Innovation Fellows Program. While the Innovations Team and project leads review those applications and select candidates, there is another exciting and important component of the HHS Innovation Fellows Program that we would like to share with you: the Innovation Fellows Technical Advisors.
The Innovation Fellows Technical Advisors consist of eleven individuals from varying backgrounds and experiences who will be on hand to provide each of the HHS Innovations Fellows with unique perspectives, advice and support for each of their assigned projects. HHS will provide Host and External Innovation Fellows the opportunity to receive advice, participate in roundtable discussions, and have direct access to a team of entrepreneurs, innovation experts, industry professionals and venture capitalists to support the Host Innovation projects. This aims to be an ongoing advisory relationship to help Fellows enhance their understanding of the project and address any perceived weaknesses as they move towards a solution.
The aim of the HHS Innovations Fellows program is to bring external ideas and expertise to HHS’s own innovation process and rapidly create, develop, engage and accelerate innovation. To tackle some of the nation’s largest health care problems, the HHS Innovation Fellows program is looking outside government for solutions. While starting with a handful of Fellows to tackle four critical health problems is a good start, we recognize that in order for the Fellows to be successful, they will need support, and that’s where the Technical Advisors step in.
The Technical Advisors have a diverse background, ranging from business to technology to health care but what they all have in common is a record of entrepreneurial thinking and success. Their advice and guidance are critical and will help the Innovations Fellows as they tackle a wide range of challenges and opportunities. It is our aim that the Innovation Technical Advisor-Fellow relationship will provide practical, real world experience in dealing with the formation and growth of a new venture or solving complex problems in an innovative way.
The eleven Technical Advisors are:
Jim Dougherty – With almost 30 years of diverse operating experiences as senior management in both IT and information services companies. Jim recently co-founded Madaket, a startup Healthcare IT company based in Boston. Prior to founding Madaket, as an Operating Partner with Great Hill Partners, he worked with seven portfolio companies on their boards of directors, advisor to the CEOs, and in one case as interim CEO.
Matthew Eyring, M.B.A. – Is the managing partner of Innosight, where he also leads the healthcare and emerging markets practices. Additionally, he has worked with Fortune 500 companies in industries such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, insurance, dental care, and consumer health.
Walter Jin – Is the Chief Investment Officer of The Innovation Institute, a service provider of business solutions to non-profit hospital health systems that improves quality and cost efficiency through growth and innovation. Mr. Jin manages all investment activities related to the Innovation Growth Fund, the Innovation Incubator Lab and M&A Business Development.
Mohit Kaushal, M.D., M.B.A. – Is Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Strategy Officer of the West Wireless Health Institute. As a member of the executive leadership team, he is identifying and pursuing business development opportunities that will advance the Institute’s mission of lowering health care costs.
Jennifer Kurkoski, Ph.D. - Directs Google's People & Innovation Lab (PiLab). Part of Google's People Operations (a.k.a., Human Resources) department, PiLab members conduct innovative research aimed at transforming organizational practice within Google and beyond. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company magazine.
Karim R. Lakhani, Ph.D. – Is an assistant professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at the Harvard Business School. He specializes in the management of technological innovation in firms and communities. Professsor Lakhani’s research on distributed innovation has been published in Harvard Business Review, Innovations, Management Science, Organization Science, Research Policy and the Sloan Management Review.
Stefan Lindegaard – Is an author, speaker and strategic advisor. His focus on the topics of open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship has propelled him into being a trusted advisor to many large corporations. He believes open innovation requires a global perspective and he has given talks and worked with companies on open innovation in Europe, South America, the U.S. and Asia. His blog is a globally recognized destination on open innovation. You can read further at www.15inno.com.
Caroline Popper, M.D., M.P.H. – Currently serves as Co-Founder and President of Popper and Company, a firm focused on targeting at inefficiencies in the healthcare delivery system and/or at the convergence of healthcare and technology. An internist and pathologist, she combines medical and scientific perspective with knowledge gained from managing a wide spectrum of life sciences businesses in diagnostics, devices and drug discovery.
Eric Ries – Is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology and the author of the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned. He previously co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of IMVU. In 2007, BusinessWeek named Ries one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech and in 2009 he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership.
Richard Roth, M.H.A. – Leads Dignity Health’s innovation efforts, which seek to create and test novel services, programs, partnerships, and/or technologies – from within and outside of healthcare – that challenge the status quo and have the potential to reduce the cost of care, improve quality, and/or increase access to services.
Nathan Waterhouse – Co-leads OpenIDEO with Tom Hulme, a Web-based platform that enables the community at large to help design human-centered solutions to social and environmental problems worldwide. Based in Palo Alto, California, Nathan develops and explores the potential of open innovation as it grows and matures as a business model, using it to create new concepts and offerings for IDEO clients in the US.
HHS is very excited to have each of these individuals involved in the Innovation Fellows Program. Their leadership, knowledge, and outside experience will help push the boundaries of internal innovation and help ensure success in each of the four projects. Stay tuned for the announcement of the External Innovation Fellows!
Typically when you think of government, the word “innovation” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Well it’s time to change that! The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is proud to announce that for the first time ever, the public will have the opportunity to vote on the finalists of the HHSinnovates Program. That means, your vote will help determine which project will be selected as the winner of the “People’s Choice”.
Now in its fifth round, the HHSinnovates Program seeks not only to recognize and reward good ideas but also to facilitate the exchange of innovative ideas throughout the Department and beyond. These new approaches are created to help carry out the Department’s mission: to enhance the health and well-being of Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering strong, sustained advances in the sciences, underlying medicine, public health, and social services. Employees use the innovation-conducive environment to create new solutions to solve critical problems in these areas.
With over 450 great projects submitted over five rounds since the HHSinnovates Program launched in 2010, the establishment of the “People’s Choice” will give the public a view of the innovative projects being adopted in government and health care, and also a say in what project best embodies innovative spirit, is scalable and replicable.
From an initial 60 projects submitted this round, we have chosen the top six. But now we need your help in deciding which project you feel has the ability to be the most innovative and impactful – in other words, to be the “People’s Choice”.
Public voting is open until September 14, 2012. See two projects that are worthy of your vote? Feel like you just can’t decide which project is the best? Let us know by voting.
The awards ceremony will be held on September 24th from 11 – 11:30 AM and will be telecast on http://www.hhs.gov/live
For more information on the HHSinnovates Program, visit: HHSinnovates.
Originally posted on July 10, 2012
On May 25, 2012 the U.S. Chief Information Officer, Steve VanRoekel issued the next building block of facilitating federal IT, the Digital Government Strategy for the US Government. It sets a bold vision for the use of IT – both to provide citizen centered services and to enable the federal workforce with modern technology.
The Digital Government Strategy is building on an already extensive foundation that aims to deliver better technology, data and insights for less money. The Strategy embraces a new way of doing business enabling modern technology and information to better serve the public.
The Digital Government Strategy recognizes one of the unique characteristics of information technology: more can be done for less money. Few would argue that the federal government can and should be doing more, and offering better services, for the estimated $80 billion we spend annually on technology; indeed, the foundation of IT reforms illustrates the many opportunities for improvement.
The Strategy is unique among the foundational reforms: instead of focusing on processes to improve IT, it focuses on outcomes. There are 3 simple goals:
- Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile federal workforce to access information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device;
- Deliver digital services, such as providing access to an individual’s Medicare account, to the American people smartly, securely, and affordable; and
- Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation.
Realizing the objectives of the Digital Government Strategy will ultimately improve the quality of services available to the American people and advance each of the Department of Health and Human Service’s strategic goals:
- Strengthen Health Care
- Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation
- Advance the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of the American People
- Increase Efficiency, Transparency, and Accountability of HHS Programs
- Strengthen the Nation's Health and Human Services Infrastructure and Workforce
The Strategy’s “Information-Centric” approach will “free the data” and increase the liquidity of information. HHS has already experienced the power of data liquidity with Open Gov initiatives. For example, HealthData.gov is a one-stop resource for the growing ecosystem of innovators who are turning data into new applications, services, and insights that can help improve health and health care. As a “Shared First” project, HealthData.Gov has been re-released as HealthData v2, a full scale collaborative service around health dataset management, commentary and access. HealthData v2 includes community collaboration capabilities; the dynamic ability to create and maintain content without intermediaries; user commentary and ranking for datasets; secure workflow for dataset submission and approval; the capability to directly host datasets; advanced faceted search; and semantic and linked data capabilities to provide an integrated workplace and community for collaboration around health related data.
But we need to move beyond data liquidity to information liquidity. We are looking to increase the value of program and content data by having information on HHS’s websites tagged in a way that make it available for use by machines.
As we have done with Open Government, we will be asking for HHS employee and public input and sharing our progress on the digital strategy web site. We will mark our progress by our accomplishments – over the next 6 – 12 months we plan to:
- Engage with customers to identify at least two existing major customer-facing services that contain high-value data or content as first-move candidates to make compliant with new open data, content, and web API policy;
- Make high-value data and content in at least two existing major customer-facing systems available through web APIs, apply metadata tagging and publish a plan to transition additional high-value systems;
- Optimize at least two existing priority customer-facing services for mobile use and publish a plan for improving additional existing services
- Develop models for the delivery of commercial mobile applications into the federal environment; and
- Optimize at least two existing priority customer-facing services for mobile use and publish a plan for improving additional existing services.
HHS is rapidly adapting to the new digital world and is fully embracing the Digital Government Strategy’s objectives. With HHS harnessing the potential of the digital world, the Department is laser-focused on enhancing the well-being of the American people.
Originally posted on June 20, 2012
Are you interested in solving the nation’s most critical health care problems? The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) is looking for external experts and entrepreneurs to work on innovative projects through the HHS Innovation Fellows Program . The Innovation Fellows Program aims to bring external ideas and expertise to HHS’s own innovation process and rapidly create, develop, engage and accelerate innovation.
The Innovations Fellows Program marries innovative opportunities and federal staff to innovative external experts. The benefits for both parties are twofold, the internal innovators receive expertise on an innovative project and external innovators receive a unique experience in government, solving some of the most critical issues this nation faces.
HHS is using the Innovation Fellows Program as a means to advance innovation internally at HHS and address some of the nation’s largest health care problems. The projects that have been accepted for this first round include:
- Accelerating clinical quality measures for the Affordable Care Act: Develop new clinical quality measures that incorporate information available in electronic health records to monitor the impact of the implementation of the HITECH Act (ARRA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Designing the infrastructure for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility: Develop an electronic infrastructure that States can integrate to implement the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) method for determining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility that is required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Building “health resilience technology” to withstand natural disasters: Develop innovative solutions that will allow individuals with access and functional needs to continue to use their durable medical equipment (DME – includes medical devices powered by electricity, such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and intravenous infusion pumps) during prolonged power outages.
- Devising electronic tracking and transport of the nation’s organ transplant system: Revise the existing organ system to improve identification, labeling, packaging, and transport of the nation’s organs and include electronic components for identifying organs and tracking their movement to minimize the potential for misdirection or other delays in organ transportation and reduce the chance of incorrect transplantation.
Each of these projects will greatly affect the status of the Nation’s health.
- The clock is ticking, with 30 million additional American’s gaining access to affordable insurance coverage by 2014 and the simplification of the eligibility requirements across the Nation through the adoption of the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) requirements; States need a new eligibility system to determine income, household composition and family size. Given the short timeframe for development and implementation, “MAGI in a box”, an electronic eligibility determination system, is a solution that could be developed and shared with States to help reduce the risk of States missing the January 2014 deadline. This project will help millions of Americans and shape how people gain access to health insurance coverage.
- The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) collects more than 8,000 organs from deceased donors and more than 22,000 organ transplants are completed annually through the OPTN each year. Currently, organs are collected and tracked via paper and pencil methods with an estimated 10% of organs ending up in the wrong place. In an effort to improve safety by eliminating the risk of manual transcription error, HHS believes that the revision of the OPTN organ identification, labeling, packaging and transport system to include electronic components will result in fewer lost organs and reduced chance of incorrect transplantation. In addition to development, the external fellow will work with government officials on the adoption of the new system by the OPTN board.
- Save lives now before potential disaster situations by assisting the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) find a solution that will allow individuals with access and functional needs continue to use their durable medical equipment (including medical devices powered by electricity such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and intravenous infusion pumps) at home during prolonged power outages, thereby decompressing the burden on the health care system. The external fellow will likely use both technology and business approaches to tackle this complex problem.
- Work at warp speed to help accelerate the development and adoption of new clinical quality measures that will incorporate information available in electronic health records to help HHS monitor the impact of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Clinical quality measures typically take 3 – 5 years to develop, but with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services transitioning to a value based reimbursement effort and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s investment in electronic health records, the time for new clinical quality measures is now. Help HHS with the use of the Lean System. Lean is a way of analyzing and organizing complex processes with many steps and people involved in a process- especially a production process. HHS is looking for a Lean expert to lead a “value stream” analysis of the clinical quality e-measure production.
In this collaboration, HHS will provide Host and External Innovation Fellows the opportunity to receive mentoring, participate in roundtable discussions, and have direct access to a team of entrepreneurs, innovation experts, industry professionals and venture capitalists to support the Host Innovation projects.
The HHS External Fellow application is open to individuals outside the Department of Health and Human Services from June 20, 2012 – July 20, 2012, more information can be found on the HHS Open Government webpage. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com.
Apply now for the opportunity to help millions of Americans!
Imagine a scenario where a patient, from her mobile phone, can find the best possible health care provider and securely book an appointment; where she and her doctor have the latest treatment information at their fingertips; and where this information helps improve or even save her life.
This scenario, and many others like it, is now being brought to life by entrepreneurs and innovators leveraging the power of data to improve health and health care. Last week, we had the amazing experience of joining nearly 1,600 rock-star innovators who packed into the Health Data Consortium’s third annual Health Datapalooza here in Washington.
Using health-related data that are being made accessible in computer-readable form from federal and state agencies, and other sources, entrepreneurs are creating new applications and services that help: consumers find the best health care provider for their families; doctors deliver the best possible care; mayors make better-informed policy decisions; and much more.
Hundreds of companies and nonprofits battled it out in a national competition leading to the “top 100” being featured at the event. For example mHealthCoach is a mobile application that helps patients find the right health care providers, communicate effectively with them, and manage their own health. Archimedes gives physicians the ability to create optimized care regimens for patients based on the most up to date research and information available.
The Datapalooza also saw the launch of a significantly upgraded new version of HealthData.gov, our one-stop resource for government data; new government data resources being made available to developers such as insurance products and pricing information; nearly a dozen major new challenge competitions sponsored by a wide array of organizations; commitments by five regional coalitions to start holding local Health Datapaloozas; and much more.
In the last two years, we’ve gone from 45 people in a room, brainstorming about a possible Health Data Initiative that would “liberate” government data to spur entrepreneurship, to an overflow crowd of nearly 1,600. We’ve gone from 17 companies and nonprofits submitting applications and services in 2010 to over 240 submitting for the Datapalooza in 2012. And most importantly, we’ve begun to see these innovations make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans across the country.
These entrepreneurs and innovators embody the spirit of a country that continuously innovates its way to an ever brighter future, and can take health data and turn them into amazing new products and services that are already helping millions of Americans, contributing to economic growth, and creating jobs. We are deeply committed to continuing to supply American entrepreneurs and innovators with an ever-improving pipeline of open data, and we can’t wait to see what they’re going to build next!
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly 90% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and more than half of these users own a smartphone. African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are more likely to own mobile phones, have searched for health information using their mobile phone, and downloaded health-related apps compared with Whites. Of smartphone owners in general, 15% have reported using their device to search for health information. The increased use of personal mobile devices for health information seeking raises interesting opportunities, not just for clinical or medical health, but for public health as well. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed several mobile health programs geared toward public health. In addition to mHealth programs described in prior blogs (see Three Approaches to mHealth), we highlight several innovative HHS public health programs here:
- National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a gallery of mobile apps and mobile-optimized websites to disseminate health information to the public, including “Health Hotlines” and several emergency response apps. In addition, PubMed Mobile and MedlinePlus Mobile provide the public with access to information on a broad range of topics including wellness and general health news on various mobile platforms.
- Since 2009, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) has also created mobile-optimized websites where the public can access health information using mobile devices: http://m.cdc.gov/. This complement the CDC Mobile Health Tips SMS program that sends health text messages to those who enroll.
- CDC partnered with HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) to create an SMS toolkit for emergency responders to have ready access to disaster-related text messages.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) has developed a suite of programs geared toward smoking cessation efforts. For teens and young adults there is Smokefree TXT, a text-based program, and the smartphone app, QuitSTART. Adults can use the Smokefree QuitGuide, a native application which offers similar features. NCI has also developed a mobile-optimized websites, where the public can access cancer information using their mobile devices: m.cancer.gov.
Interestingly, some HHS mobile programs are merging public health with either health care or clinical medicine (i.e., linking the public to clinical services).
- HRSA’sFind a Health Center is a consumer-facing program/app that allows the public to locate federally funded health center that can provide free or income-sensitive medical services.
- SAMHSA’sTreatment Locator mobile application also provides the public with location information about mental health and substance abuse centers.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is working with states to develop mobile-facing initiatives, such as the mobile version of the InsureKidNow.gov web site.
The unprecedented proliferation of mobile phones (both basic cell phones and smartphones) offers important communication channels to disseminate reliable health messages to the public broadly. With the high rates of mobile phone use among ethnic groups, and the increased adoption of mobile phones among rural populations (smartphone use increased from 21% in May 2011 to 34% in February 2012 according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project), opportunities also exist to target particular communities and subgroups in need with tailored health information using mobile phones.
Building a new health data resource: healthdata.gov Version 2.0
Finding the data resources to solve problems in health and health care is a typical first step innovators take to creating tools, apps, and services. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a vast array of data resources that many developers are now using to create them. However, it is often difficult and time consuming to match data resources with the potential users. To breakthrough this barrier, in January 2011, a web community was launched to provide catalogue listings, and search capabilities enabling users to find HHS data and tools in its holding. Today, over 300 individual data resources from HHS and other federal agencies can be found at healthdata.gov and many more new data entries are coming.
Recognizing the value of the to the developer community, we asked for input on how to make healthdata.gov better. Building on your feedback, earlier this spring, we began a progress for a system redesign of healthdata.gov. We plan to launch this new resource in June and are building many new and improved features and capabilities. In anticipation of this new user experience, we encourage you to watch the video below to see “What’s on our Whiteboard” to hear about the details.
As originally posted April 9, 2012.
Today marks the two year anniversary of when HHS launched its first ever Open Government plan, which guided our efforts to make government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Over the last several months, the Department of Health and Human Services advanced new ideas and initiatives that will take HHS’s Open Government commitment to the President’s objectives to a new level. The result is our new Version 2.0 of the HHS Open Government plan. There are several new initiatives about which I’d like you to know. I encourage you to see the many ways we are focused on open government principles.
The Version 2.0 plan has three new flagship programs with completion dates in 2013 and 2014 that address open government principles across HHS agencies. The first is a new Innovation Fellows program recently announced by Secretary Sebelius.
This program is designed to pair HHS employees with experts and entrepreneurs from outside government to solve some of the Department’s toughest challenges. Another priority program addresses medical product development through multi-agency collaboration with academia and private sector research. This approach strengthens our capabilities to develop new health technologies which address our nation’s most critical diseases and conditions. Our third priority builds on our highly successful health data initiative by focusing on new efforts to improve the quality of data and enhance our understanding and use of it. A number of new projects will improve the way our department works with the public to meet critical information needs.
I encourage you to learn more about our new plan and see the diverse ways we are addressing transparency in government. From the start, we’ve asked the public to provide input and comment on our plans. So, thank you for your ideas and suggestions; I urge you to stay involved. Please continue to submit comments and provide us additional thoughts on ways we can improve upon our goals. From time to time, my HHS colleagues and I will provide you with progress updates and respond to your feedback.
ONC Buzz Blog
A different version of this post has run on the ONC Buzz Blog.
The healthcare system is going digital at a fast clip. In the last two years, the number of hospitals using electronic health records has more than doubled to 35%--and the majority of remaining hospitals say they have near-term plans to do so. While patient or consumer use of digital tools for health, such as patient portals and personal health records (PHRs) generally lags behind, it is catching up, especially when you also consider the use of “non-traditional” tools, such as mHealth and social media. The proportion of American consumers using mobile phones for health has more than doubled in a single year to 26%, and social media use for health has more than tripled since 2007, reaching roughly a third of the country.
As we know from numerous polls and studies, the privacy of personal health information is one of the policy issues the public cares about most as health care goes digital. Laws and regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH provide some parameters for privacy guidance in this changing environment, and as health information technology evolves, additional initiatives can build on and complement those protections.
The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), primarily through its Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, is working to understand and provide tools for addressing privacy and security issues related to mobile and online health through several initiatives, described below. In addition, in partnership with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), ONC is helping to inform the public about privacy and security within the context of the benefits of health information technology and its potential impact on individual patients and consumers (see Patients & Families website).
Current Privacy Initiatives at ONC include:
- Mobile Devices Roundtable: Safeguarding Health Information: A March 16, 2012 roundtable to inform the development of clinician “good practices” regarding securing health information on mobile devices.
- mHealth Privacy and Security Consumer Research: Ongoing focus group research to explore the attitudes and preferences of consumers with respect to health-related information and mobile devices.
- Survey on Privacy, Security of Medical Records: An annual public survey looking at preferences related to the privacy and security of electronic health records and health information exchange, exploring, among other key measures, the percentage of people who report having kept any part of their medical history from their doctor due to privacy concerns. Results will be posted online.
- Model Privacy Notice for Consumers for Personal Health Records: An online tool that help consumers assess and compare the privacy practices of individual personal health records (PHRs) through a simple table, filled out by PHR providers, describing how they use and protect health information.
For those who wish to do a deeper dive into privacy/security issues, take a look at the following websites as well: Hitech Act and HIPAA (notice of proposed rulemaking), HHS Office of Civil Rights (Health Information Privacy Page webpage), HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (Cybersecurity webpage), Federal Trade Commission (Privacy and Security webpage), and the Department of Justice (Privacy Act of 1974).).
There are two great ways you can connect with us to help in our efforts to make the Department of Health and Human Services more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.
First, we are preparing our draft version of the next HHS Open Government plan and now have a new way to gain your input: a new online questionnaire where you can present your best ideas.
Share your thoughts with us at http://wcdapps.hhs.gov/OpenGovPublicInput/Survey.
We’ll share your ideas across the department and bring them into our plan in the best ways we can. Comments are due by April 9, 2012, and the earlier we get them, the better.
Second, the upcoming 2012 Health Data Initiative Forum – otherwise known as the “Health Datapalooza” -- which will be held on June 5-6 at the Washington Convention Center in DC. This event, now being organized by a public-private partnership called the Health Data Consortium, will highlight the massive creativity that innovators across the country are displaying as they harness the power of open HHS and other data in all kinds of ways to help create benefit and value for consumers, health care professionals, community leaders, and more. The Datapalooza team is now taking applications from innovators who wish to be considered to present at the Datapalooza – go to www.hdiforum.org to apply. The application deadline is March 30, 2012.
Obama Administration and Text4Baby join forces to connect pregnant women and children to health coverage and information
Builds on new health care law’s efforts to expand coverage
The Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that it will partner with Text4Baby, a free national health texting service, to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and provide pregnant women and new mothers free text messages on important health care issues.
The announcement is part of activities marking the anniversaries of both the signing of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) and the launch of Text4Baby, whose partners include Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Johnson & Johnson as a founding sponsor, Voxiva, which provides the mobile health platforms, and a host of wireless carriers.
“As a mother, I know how important health coverage and health information is for pregnant women and new moms,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Through CHIPRA, the health care law and this partnership, we are helping more and more women across the country have the insurance and information they need to have healthy babies and keep them healthy as they grow up.”
Organizations across the country are using the CHIPRA and Text4Baby anniversaries to highlight how access to both health coverage and health information is critical for families.
Activities are already taking place in locations in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma and others. For example, applicants using an online application to apply for Medicaid and CHIP in San Diego will now be able to enroll with Text4Baby directly; the Florida Department of Health will place contact information for both Text4Baby and Florida Healthy Kids (the State’s children’s health insurance program) on the envelopes used to send birth certificates to families with newborns; and Oklahoma hospitals are being encouraged to connect new mothers to Text4Baby when they enroll newborns in Medicaid right after birth.
“The partnership announced today will help encourage eligible mothers and children to enroll in Medicaid and CHIP,” said Marilyn Tavenner, CMS Acting Administrator. “Text4Baby users will be alerted to the availability of health insurance options, and we are encouraging our partners and other organizations working to help get children enrolled in health coverage to make sure that new moms know how to sign up with Text4Baby for all kinds of health tips and reminders.”
“Text-messaging is a part of the culture in terms of how we communicate,” said U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin. “Using text-messaging to help conduct outreach to families about health coverage for their children is just one more way that the appropriate use of technology is enhancing how we make sure pregnant women and children get the health care they need.”
In 2011, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program covered 43.5 million children. Under CHIPRA, CMS has awarded a total of $90 million in grants to states, Tribes, nonprofit groups, schools, health care providers and others to conduct activities to ensure that eligible children are enrolled in health coverage and remain enrolled for as long as they qualify.
“On the third anniversary of this law being enacted, we are providing an important new tool that can help connect mothers and children to affordable coverage,” said Cindy Mann, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “This new tool is an important vehicle for reaching young mothers.”
More than 184,000 current Text4Baby users are receiving a new message alerting them to the availability of free and low-cost health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. The message will provide a connection to the InsureKidsNow phone number and website for information about how to sign up. Additional messages will be periodically texted to provide Text4Baby users information about the importance of prenatal visits for women and the value of health coverage for keeping children healthy and getting the care they need when they’re sick.
A report issued on CHIPRA’s third anniversary details what Medicaid and CHIP have achieved in 2011.
The report, “2011 CHIPRA Annual Report: Steady Growth, New Innovation” can be found at: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/chipraannualreport.pdf.
Mobile phones and devices are becoming increasingly integral to everything we do - banking, shopping, navigating, and learning have all gone mobile. With the rise of mobile tech, there is awesome opportunity to focus the attention of developers on health needs that can be addressed with mobile! Last July, HHS CTO Todd Park announced the availability of the HHS Challenge Toolkit website and highlighted the department's use of Developer Challenges as a tool to engage technology innovators to build creative and useful health solutions. The toolkit itself provides guidance, examples, and best practices for creating and running a challenge. Having participated in the design and judging of mHealth challenges/competitions, here are a couple of reflections:
- mHealth Technologies Change Rapidly, Challenges/Competitions Allow for Rapid Innovation Too!
Challenges/competitions allow us to search for solutions to a problem even when the exact specifications of a solution are not yet known, inviting high levels of creativity and innovation. While developers are excited about mobile in areas such as commerce, they may be unaware of the potential of mobile technology to address health issues. Furthermore, they may be unaware of the readily available data resources though sites such as www.healthdata.gov and www.healthindicators.gov. By integrating these mobile technologies into the design of challenges, we can raise the profile of these resources, while greatly aiding the developers' exploration of a possibly unfamiliar space.
- Challenges/Competitions Invite Broader Participation A key feature of challenges/competitions is its flexibility to engage untapped talent pools of not only developers, but also talented expert judges for participation. In the recent Apps Against Abuse challenge, for instance, domestic violence and tech experts across the federal government came together to provide expertise in judging apps submitted by new collaborations between techies and content experts. For the “M-Health B-Plan competition” 2012 in India, the coordinators actually utilized innovative technology (i.e., Skype) to allow a judge (me) to participate in real-time from another country, using a laptop & webcam.
- mHealth Challenges May Have Specific Needs Challenges/competitions that involve mobile technology often require the use of specific operating systems (OS) or devices (iPhone/iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.) to adequately judge submitted apps. In addition, apps that require additional functionality (e.g., camera, GPS, accelerometers) also may need to be taken into consideration when judging submissions. Without the necessary devices, operating systems, and/or additional integrated hardware, judging submitted apps adequately may prove difficult.
The potential for HHS agencies to encourage, assist and influence the mobile health space is tangible, and developer challenges offer exciting new ways to encourage change and innovation in this space. Check out health.data.gov, challenge.gov, and hhs.gov/open for more info. And then dial in your comments below.
In January 2009, President Obama issued the Open Government Directive, calling for government agencies to take action to become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. We issued “Version 1” of HHS’s Open Government Plan on April 7, 2010. This plan has served as our guiding star as we’ve worked energetically to “liberate” HHS data and improve how HHS collaborates with the public and external stakeholders. We are now working on “Version 2” of our Open Government Plan, and would love to get your help in developing it. In particular, we’d love to get your input on the following questions:
- Are there any policy development or program implementation areas which should be areas of particular focus for our open government efforts?
- Are there new forms of public participation with which HHS should experiment? What kinds of new or improved techniques can we utilize to interact in the most meaningful possible ways with the American people?
- How can we more effectively reach non-traditional audiences in order to obtain the broadest level of input possible into HHS planning and implementation processes?
If you could share your thoughts with us on these questions (and any other areas of open government interest), we’d appreciate it very much – please send your thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also working with open government stakeholder and advocacy groups on tapping other sources of public input as we engage in plan development. Once we’ve received a full range of inputs from external and internal audiences, we’ll assemble a draft plan. By late March, we’ll make our draft plan available on this website for public comment and feedback.
We look forward to working with you on this effort – thanks so much in advance for your help!
Does a mobile health (mHealth) program work and how do you know? The traditional scientific process provides a systematic way of determining which research and evaluation methods work (and which don’t). The advent of mobile devices has created unique and exciting opportunities for conducting research and evaluation, along with challenges for researchers to address. We outline three key considerations in developing mHealth research initiatives: 1) innovative methods for mHealth research; 2) human subject protection issues - institutional review board (IRB) review and approval; and 3) trans-disciplinary research and diverse audience expectations.
Innovative Methods for New Technology
The rapid pace of development in the mobile world has been astounding (the iPhone was only released in 2007!). As the relevance of some mHealth studies, particularly in applied research, may depend on using technology, it has been suggested that technology development may be outpacing research. Results from randomized clinical trials (RCTs; the "gold standard") can take several years to be available. So, the technology initially proposed may well be obsolete when final results are published. Last summer, NIH co-sponsored the "mHealth Evidence" workshop to discuss and consider "alternative study designs and methodologies that ensure that research studies are able to provide timely information within a rapidly evolving field". Are there solutions here to accelerate and improve mHealth research? Check out the video of the workshop and dial-in your thoughts and comments below.
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
IRBs examine the risks/ethics of proposed research, and provide oversight over the protection of human subjects – see HHS OHRP website. With the rich, real-time data (e.g., geolocation, videos) that can be collected using mHealth tools, the related privacy/security issues have come under much scrutiny. A common sentiment among researchers is that variability currently exists in how IRBs review mHealth research, particularly in the IRB’s assessment of potential risks to the participants using the technology. Further evidence on mHealth privacy/security risks and how they are perceived by the general public may be helpful in assisting IRBs in developing a greater understanding of these issues. Given limited data on this topic, the HHS ONC is conducting a study to better understand consumers’ attitudes/concerns on mHealth privacy/security issues. As IRBs develop a means to discuss how to ensure appropriate privacy/security protections, much can be learned from other sectors (e.g., finance) that have confronted similar issues related to the use of mobile technology. Stay tuned for more on mHealth privacy/security issues in future blogs!
Trans-disciplinary Research & Diverse Audiences
mHealth research requires collaborations among groups that have typically been separate and may appreciate different aspects of evaluation. mHealth researchers will increasingly find value in partnering with each other (e.g., medical, behavioral, and biological science), and also with engineers, clinicians, NGOs, and industry. Fortunately, "Trans-Disciplinary Collaborations" and the study of "Team Science" have emerged. mHealth researchers may wish to incorporate principles from these areas into the development of scientific teams and research studies. Consumers of mHealth research may also include regulators, policy makers, and the public at large, who each have different expectations of evaluations. Thus, mHealth researchers need to be mindful of their study’s relevance and limitations to specific audiences.
As mobile technology further evolves and proliferates, additional research opportunities and challenges will arise. Have thoughts for ways to address these research challenges or wish to note other opportunities and challenges, provide a comment below!
In June 2011, the National Prevention Council, which is chaired by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, released the National Prevention Strategy, America’s plan for better health and wellness. National public health recommendations and guidelines currently exist for physical activity (Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans), nutrition (MyPlate), and overall health and wellness (Healthy People 2020). Yet approximately 40 percent of American adults report that they do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity, with less than half the population meeting public health recommendations for physical activity. In 2009, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans included the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables in their diet. Over one-third of Americans are currently obese. Research also finds that sleep health contributes to obesity and disease, but 40 percent of Americans report unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.
As a step toward addressing this need for individuals to engage in their own health and to make healthy choices, the Office of the Surgeon General, in collaboration with Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), is pleased to launch the Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge. This developer’s challenge is designed to encourage the development (by innovators) and use (by all Americans) of consumer-facing technology to create a healthy and fit nation. Consumer electronic health (e-health), new media, and mobile technologies have great potential to connect individuals, including those in underserved and hard-to-reach communities, to health care resources and decision making supports, enabling healthier lifestyle decisions. The challenge will highlight a selection of mobile apps in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to empower individuals to make healthy choices using electronic technology.
The Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge invites developers to submit their health, wellness and fitness apps for review by an independent panel of reviewers selected by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. The panel will be supported by the Office of the Surgeon General, the ONC Innovations office and the Consumer e-Health program. Winners will be announced at a public event in late January.
The following categories of applications will be considered:
- Fitness/physical activity: This category is focused on applications particularly aimed at recruiting and retaining those people who are not currently regularly exercising.
- Nutrition/healthy eating: This category is focused on applications aimed at quickly prepared home meals, eating out sensibly, and getting healthy food in airports and when travelling.
- Integrative health: This category is focused on applications aimed at integrating multiple aspects of wellness (healthy sleep habits, boosting mental/spiritual health, lifestyle behavior change, social health, family health, community health, etc.).
The future of consumer e-health is in enabling individuals to integrate health information from diverse sources, including medical information from clinicians, clinics and hospitals and information from daily life experiences that relate to health. This will allow consumers to address their unique preferences and provide tailored feedback to these. That’s why this challenge requires that all apps have a data download or accessibility function. Special consideration will be given to those entries which bring a “fun factor” to health-promoting behaviors.
Once the winner is selected in each category, Surgeon General Benjamin will use each of the winning applications and write about her experiences using social media. The challenge is designed to encourage the development and submission of technology applications that can complement and enhance two key aspects of the Surgeon General’s public health agenda:
- The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation
- And the nation’s first National Prevention Strategy
Interested developers should read the Official Rules and register on the Challenge.gov website.
Registration is free and can be completed anytime during the Application Submission Period, December 6, 2011, to December 30, 2011.
Through this challenge the Surgeon General aims to empower and inspire Americans to be healthy and fit and show how new media, like applications for mobile technologies, that are part of our everyday lives can help provide the tools.
Last month, we blogged about “Three Approaches to mHealth”. It is important to note that mHealth extends beyond mobile phones to other portable technologies (sensors, GPS, physiologic monitors, etc.). This blog addresses common complexities and challenges that HHS agencies/divisions may face in developing programs using various mobile technologies, and points to resources to help staff better understand key issues. There are many agencies and divisions (AHRQ, CMS, HRSA, NIH, etc.) under the HHS umbrella, and while each agency has unique issues, there are also common complexities and challenges across the agencies.
Common issues include:
- A need to create evidence-based, verifiable, evaluations of the programs.
- A need to address the longer-term sustainability of the programs.
- A need to address regulatory and privacy/security issues.
Evaluation: A rigorous evaluation is critical to modifying and improving mHealth efforts at the HHS. You don’t know what works unless you measure it! Complexities arise when mHealth programs have inherent limitations on the types of data that can be readily collected. For example, a mobile-friendly website can collect traditional website statistics to determine reach, but other non-web-based mHealth programs (e.g., Office of Minority Health's Diabetes Self Management Training program using smart phone video conferencing) may not have this built-in data collection capability, and require an independent evaluation to determine reach. Furthermore, determining whether a program changes behavioral or health outcomes often requires additional evaluation resources/funds, as well as, IRB or OMB approval. The approval processes can be time-consuming and complex, so learning from others who have successfully navigated the processes is highly recommended!
Sustainability: Although not unique to HHS, sustainability of mHealth programs also represents a complex and challenging issue. At HHS, sustainability issues touch on funding (e.g., appropriations), partnerships and related policy (e.g., mission and priorities) issues. While there is not a single solution to manage these complexities, HHS program leads should outline potential avenues for sustainability during the initial phases of program development.
Regulatory and Privacy/Security Issues: Whether developing mHealth tools within HHS or collaboration with outside partners, regulatory and privacy/security issues need to be addressed. Complexities and challenges arise because several rules and regulations relevant to mHealth are under development or being updated. For patient-related mHealth programs, the FDA’s guidance on mobile health applications is being developed and the HIPAA privacy rule is being updated. Of particular relevance to federal programs, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is being revised. In addition to HIPAA considerations for patient-related programs, consumer-based mHealth programs must adhere to rules that are the purview of the Federal Trade Commission. Knowing the rules and keeping track of updates is a must!
As HHS mHealth programs and partnerships proliferate, these 3 common challenges require attention and thoughtful deliberation. In the end, attending to these common issues will help mHealth programs meet the HHS mission of improving public health.
As I’ve often said, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has been doing open data since before open data was cool. NLM has now built on its outstanding track record of promoting open innovation utilizing their immense information holdings by hosting their first challenge competition: “Show off Your Apps: Innovative Uses of NLM Information.” A big tip of the hat to Dr. Don Lindberg, NLM Director, Betsy Humphreys, and their incredible team for hosting this project, which challenged innovators to create apps that harness NLM’s vast data and information resources to help improve health.
This contest was part of a year-long celebration of the 175th anniversary of the NLM -- and what a way to mark this impressive milestone! The five winning and five honorable mention teams were hosted by NLM today at a lively celebration on the campus of the National Institutes of Health where Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and I were on hand to honor these champions. Honorees included teams of researchers, technology developers, and informatics experts from all across America who are passionate about helping to improve health through the power of data.
Winning applications spanned an impressive array of uses. One team built a clever iPhone app designed to help users better understand and learn about human anatomy using NLM’s Visual Human ProjectⓇ data. Another winning team created a tool that enables users to search 59 NLM databases across all areas of biomedicine and health via a simple, powerful user interface. Another app developer created a tool that utilizes NLM’s Entrez Programming Utilities to help researchers easily answer questions like, “Which genes are related to breast cancer?”
This event and the winning applications demonstrate the impressive ingenuity that can be unleashed through open data and open innovation. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. One can only imagine what value these tools can help unlock and what else lies ahead. Get more information about the NLM apps challenge. Kudos to the winners of the challenge!
Today, at the 138th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Dr. Howard Koh, our Assistant Secretary for Health, and I joined a distinguished group of health leaders for a discussion about the new “Leading Health Indicators” for Healthy People 2020 – a set of 12 categories that capture 26 key measures of health from our Healthy People 2020 collection of health measures. Through these Leading Health Indicator (LHI) measures, communities can identify vital health issues and track how they are doing compared to other communities. Good measures and good data are essential to making progress to improve health.
These Leading Health Indicators help track access to health care, rates of health conditions, environmental factors contributing to health problems, and more. They place a focused set of parameters in the hands of policy makers, researchers, and the public – metrics that can help capture status, important trends and progress and support effective decision making and action.
We’re launching a new application development challenge to bring technology innovators and public health mavens together to develop tools that can be used to help communities apply the power of the Leading Health Indicators to improve health. Some of you may recall that last year at this time, we held a very successful app development challenge focused on the use of the Healthy People 2020 indicators. Building on that experience, we’d like to see tech and health innovators work together to leverage the Leading Health Indicators to help communities understand and take on the issues of greatest importance to them.
I encourage you to form your team today to answer the LHI Apps Challenge – you can find out more about this competition at www.challenge.gov or visit the Healthy People 2020 site at www.healthypeople.gov. Very much looking forward to seeing what innovators dream up and put together!
There are more wireless devices being used in the U.S. than there are people (CTIA, 2011)! Over 50% of U.S. adults are using wireless devices, such as cell phones, to access the internet, with 78% of wireless device users searching online for health information ( Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2010). Over the next few months, we will be highlighting HHS mobile health (mHealth) activities, initiatives and programs in a series of blogs. Following the September 2011 blog by Todd Park that highlighted the HHS Text4Health Task Force recommendations, this blog examines three different approaches to mHealth programs using cell phones, providing examples of HHS programs for each approach.
- Adapting To The Mobile Web: Several agencies have created mobile phone versions of their websites. Two examples are mobile AIDS.gov and the National Library of Medicine’s mobile Medline Plus. In this approach, internet pages are optimized for the screens and browsers of feature phones and/or smart phones. Using web standards (e.g., WURFL) and adhering to accessibility guidelines may offer the most cost-effective approach for reaching mobile internet users with mobile web programs.
- Using Short Messaging Services (SMS)/Text Messaging – This approach leverages text messaging, a feature that is nearly ubiquitous in all mobile phones. One example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Mobile Tips and Alerts” program, sends everyday health information via SMS to those who sign up by texting CDCHEALTH to 87000. This approach requires the development and maintenance of a back-end library of authoritative health messages.
- Mobile Apps & Smartphone Widgets – These are software programs that reside on smart phones. For example, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute created a mobile app version of its web-based BMI calculator, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration developed a Treatment Locator mobile app. One benefit of this approach is the ability to provide reliable health information based on HHS expertise when the user calls for it (app) or available on a continuous basis (widget). However, the lack of interoperability among smart phone operating systems often requires different versions of health programs, and not everyone owns a smart phone.
Overall, these three approaches demonstrate opportunities to meet the public’s need for immediate, relevant, accessible health information. One size (or approach) does not fit all, so those developing programs need to carefully consider which approach may best reach the most people in their target population, given budgetary, staffing or technical constraints. What’s clear is that HHS is innovating using all three approaches! We’d love your input on these (and other) HHS programs using mobile phones, as well as, opinions on these three approaches. Please add a comment below!
Today marks a special occasion for all of us at HHS as Secretary Sebelius and our leadership celebrate the finalists of the HHSinnovates competition for the second half of 2011. Congratulations to the finalists for their achievements and being selected by you—the HHS workforce that voted for them. I am particularly delighted that we have the honor of hosting the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, as our keynote speaker.
I’m always eager for these events because they give me insights into the many facets of the Department’s business operations, which are at the core of my own responsibilities. I enjoy meeting with the finalists and hearing about what inspires them, their challenges, and what they want to do next. While I find their winning innovations exciting, the most intriguing thing of all is how they did it. And that is what HHSinnovates is all about – human ingenuity. The hard work by the teams honored today features innovations in work processes, public-private partnerships, approaches to environmental sustainability, new concepts in customer services, and technology.
I encourage you to visit the HHSinnovates Winners Gallery to learn more about how innovators – perhaps someone in the office next to you – found the pathway for moving a problem to a solution. All of our agency leaders are looking for new ways to overcome some of our most vexing challenges. In fact, we are encouraging you to think differently in the way you approach your work. This indeed is the information and services age, and every part of our operation at HHS is right in the middle of it.
We cannot afford to let any good ideas sit idly in desk drawers or on desktops. Encourage your peers to consider new ways to share ideas, promote input from your stakeholders, and raise critical questions. Across this country, the business of government is changing rapidly. Let me know what you think about how we support innovation here at HHS.
The Open Government Initiative has created an unprecedented opportunity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote transparency, collaboration, and participation in causes important to our mission. Under President Obama’s leadership, HHS has taken extensive steps to advance open government through more than 80 activities articulated in our Open Government Plan (http://www.hhs.gov/open). Among the most important of these activities are our efforts to promote increased access to and innovation utilizing our data resources, improved responses to Freedom of Information Act requests, and promotion of greater participation in our mission activities through new media applications.
As President Obama signs the Open Government Partnership declaration today, HHS is proud to highlight some of the ways in which we have advanced America’s domestic open government agenda and created a more efficient and effective government through greater transparency, participation and collaboration. Our Health Data Initiative has made substantial progress improving public access to HHS’s vast data resources and helped to catalyze expanding use of these resources by innovators across the country through an extensive campaign of public competitions, “code-a-thons,” and “meetups.” Over 250 major data resources can now be found at Health.Data.gov and freely accessed by anyone. This data is being harnessed by a rapidly growing array of innovators and entrepreneurs to create products and services that help consumers find the right care providers, doctors deliver better and safer care, employers promote health and wellness, mayors make better-informed decisions, and much more – while also helping to create jobs of the future in the process.
HHS is also proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to launch the “Blue Button” initiative, allowing Medicare beneficiaries, veterans, and military beneficiaries to download electronic copies of their own claims or personal health information for the first time. Over 400,000 veterans and beneficiaries have downloaded their own data using Blue Button.
HHS is also excited to have advanced the ability of consumers to take control of their own health care through HealthCare.gov, a new website that enables Americans to easily search for health insurance options that may be right for them, leveraging the most comprehensive inventory of private insurance plan and public health coverage program information ever assembled. HealthCare.gov invites continuous online feedback from users, helping us evolve the site in a way that best serves the needs of the public.
Our Open Government strategy is about more than just making data available to the public. We are proactively engaging the creativity and energy of the American people to unlock the power of our data to deliver maximum benefit. To that end, today, HHS is re-committing to work under Open Government principles. Building on the success of the Health Data Initiative to date, we will continue to improve the depth and quality of open data resources available on Health.Data.gov. In addition, in collaboration with a new public-private partnership, the Health Data Consortium, we will continue to actively support the growth of the open “ecosystem” of innovators and entrepreneurs who are utilizing our data to help improve health and create jobs. While we are still at the beginning of this journey, we are very excited that momentum continues to build for these activities, and very much look forward to the path ahead!
Mobile technology and cell phones offer incredible opportunities to reach large segments of the U.S. population, including historically underserved populations, with important and potentially life-saving health information. In November 2009, HHS established the Text4Health Task Force to explore how to leverage the power of text messaging in particular to advance health. This Task Force explored best practices and lessons learned from existing health text messaging programs, including the Text4Baby program (www.text4baby.org), a public-private partnership led by a non-profit organization (the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies coalition) that provides free health text messages to pregnant women and new mothers.
To spur further innovation in health text messaging, the Task Force made several recommendations. One of the main recommendations is for HHS researchers to help create health text message libraries based on the best available science and to make these libraries open access, publicly available, and downloadable and usable by anyone. In the spirit of open government, we hope that this provides developers and innovators with the raw material for all kinds of creative applications, programs and services that can help improve health.
Initial libraries that we will be providing include a library just developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) called QuitNowTXT, containing interactive and evidence-based smoking cessation text messages targeted to adult smokers. The QuitNowTXT text messages offer tips, motivation, encouragement and information tailored to the user’s responses. Innovators interested in leveraging the QuitNowTXT text message library can now download it at http://smokefree.gov/hp.aspx. And stay tuned for more libraries, coming soon (to Health.Data.gov)!
HHS is also pursuing opportunities to forge a global public-private partnership to make the QuitNowTXT program available to other countries to reach adult tobacco users. This initiative aims to collaborate with interested countries to support mHealth/text-based demonstration projects using this new text messaging resource. Drawing on the experience gained from these demonstration projects, the countries and partners will identify and disseminate best practices for tobacco cessation mHealth/text-based interventions.
Check out the full Task Force recommendations at www.hhs.gov/open and let us know what you think. As per the recommendations, we’ve established a new mHealth Community of Practice at HHS that will continue to explore and formulate how HHS can best support the use of text messaging and mobile technology to improve health, building upon the work of the Task Force. We’d love to dial your input into what we do going forward!
New York is proud to be among a diverse group of public and private institutions that have come together to harness the power of health data to improve public health and health care delivery. In a time of limited resources, making data more widely available, open, and accessible will enable government to engage key stakeholders in the important work of advancing public health and health care.
Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, the New York State Department of Health has launched an exciting website to make public for the first time critical data from every part of the healthcare system. Called the METRIX Project (Maximizing Essential Tools for Research Innovation and eXcellence), this initiative seeks to expand the use of New York State Health Department datasets by our partners and consumers to improve healthcare and public health.
The State Health Department collects and uses hundreds of datasets that touch upon the entire continuum of health. While some of these datasets are limited in scope and permissible use, others have many new potential applications. We believe these datasets represent a public good -- and can be a valuable source of data for researchers, entrepreneurs, or community-based organizations to further their own public health projects or collaborate with the State Health Department. Collectively, the datasets represent an immense resource to help us all understand and change the environment in which illness occurs and wellness can be promoted.
We’re rolling out METRIX in phases. We began by releasing six datasets on the Department’s website (see http://health.ny.gov/METRIX):
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System;
- Cancer Mapping;
- Healthy Neighborhoods Program;
- New York Adult Tobacco Survey;
- New York National Comparison Adult Tobacco Survey; and
- Nursing Home Weekly Bed Census.
METRIX will be updated frequently as more datasets are added. The dataset catalog provides not only all the actual data but also complete documentation for its use: information on how the data are collected (including relevant survey tools), how the Department of Health uses the data, how frequently it will be updated, and some suggested uses. The NY Department of Health welcomes your input as you use the data, perhaps conducting analyses on the suggested topics offered with each dataset, or in other creative ways. For example, a research team could study public support for banning displays of tobacco products in retail stores using the New York Adult Tobacco Survey dataset. Researchers interested in studying obesity prevention in adults might use the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to explore the relationships between risk factors such as poor mental health, inadequate sleep, and other modifiable risk factors for chronic disease. A developer can create an iPhone or android app with weekly-updated census counts for nursing homes, tied in to other publically available datasets about nursing homes. All types of innovators can play an integral role in analyzing emerging public health issues and influencing the development of public health policies and programs. These efforts can drive positive behavior, systems change, and environmental changes in communities – leading to the improved population health, especially in populations and communities experiencing disparities in health. With the launch of METRIX, New York is taking a significant step toward engaging everyone interested in creating a high-quality, robust public health and health care system for the 21st century.
You can view METRIX on the New York State Department of Health’s website by visiting http://www.health.ny.gov/metrix
Dr. Shah is the New York State Commissioner of Health
You can follow him on Twitter.com/HealthNYGov, and on Facebook.com/NYSDOH
Greetings! Today, I had the pleasure of hanging out at a remarkable forum focused on problem-solving held at the National Institutes of Health. Many of you are probably thinking, “Hey, we solve problems every day – what’s new about that?” Yet each of us is frequently searching for new ideas and people who might have unique talents, experiences, and expertise that could hold the key to unlocking new approaches to problems. The “Crowdsourcing” Forum held today shines a light on opportunities in science, health, communications, and education to use information technology and the power of reaching out to large audiences as a means to find innovative answers to some of our toughest questions.
As I look across HHS, I see remarkable change underway in how we undertake problem-solving in service of our organization’s mission objectives. Information technology, open access to data, and use of social networks are clearly opening broad new horizons of innovation and discovery. Our emphasis on the Open Government principles of transparency, collaboration, and participation are embodied in this approach to our work. Crowdsourcing practices coupled with the use of challenges and competitions that award prizes for problem-solving are powerful innovation levers.
Today, we are unveiling our HHS Challenge Toolkit website that provides HHSers with experience, guidance documents, best practices, templates and other tools, along with a “winner’s circle” that celebrates successful challenge and solutions providers. It’s our hope that these tools will help HHS innovators tap into the “power of many” across the country to advance health and well-being. Check out these tools and let us know what you think!
In the year since the U S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first published its Open Government Plan, we’ve worked energetically to implement the Plan’s blueprint for advancing transparency, participation, and collaboration at HHS.
Now, we’re excited to release a Progress Report on our Open Government Plan that highlights some of the most important developments in HHS’s Open Government Initiative in four key domain areas: Leadership, Governance and Culture Change at HHS; Transparency and Data Sharing; Participation and Collaboration; and some of our major projects known as the HHS Open Government Flagship Initiatives.
In the report you will find summaries of events, new capabilities, new resources, and other developments that represent important HHS Open Government actions over the past year. And while we’ve made a lot of progress, work on multiple fronts continues to expand and accelerate. We’d love your feedback on our progress and where we’re going. It’s our belief that an ever more open HHS is one that is also ever more effective and efficient at serving the American people!
Almost exactly one year ago, we launched a vital new HHS Open Government effort: The Health Data Initiative (HDI). The Initiative was publicly launched by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, Institute of Medicine (IoM) President Harvey Fineberg, and White House CTO Aneesh Chopra at a forum held at the National Academy of Sciences.
This Thursday, June 9th, innovators and entrepreneurs alike will gather at the National Institutes of Health for the 2nd Annual Health Data Initiative. The hundreds attending in person will be joined by 10 universities hosting viewing parties, and encourage you to join us from one of these satellite locations or at HHS.gov/live where we will be live streaming the entire event beginning at 9 a.m. ET. You can also follow the conversation on twitter where @HealthDataGov will be live tweeting the event. Hashtag #healthapps.
The Health Data Initiative is an incredibly exciting public-private collaboration that is encouraging innovators to utilize data made publicly available by HHS and others to help fuel applications and services that can help improve health and health care. Over the past year HHS has been working very hard to make our data ever more accessible to the public – both publishing brand new data and making more of our existing data machine-readable, downloadable, accessible via application programming interfaces (APIs), free, and vastly easier to find. We’ve launched major new data and information websites (the HealthData.gov community, the Health Indicators Warehouse; and HealthCare.gov).
Equally importantly, we’ve been energetically publicizing our data, through challenges, code-a-thons, and many sessions with innovators of all kinds – educating folks around the country about what data we’ve made available and its potential to help power health improvement. Innovators from across America are taking our data and are using it to build and power an amazing and rapidly growing array of applications in creative and powerful ways to help advance health. This movement has included entrepreneurs and change makers from all sectors: startups, major businesses, nonprofits, public health, health care delivery system, federal and local government, and academia.
Multiple major new challenges or “action beats” will also be announced by government and non-government entities, so you will want to tune in live to the meeting.
There has never been a better time to be an innovator and entrepreneur at the intersection of health, health care and data. A combination of historic polices such as the Affordable Care Act, HITECH Act, Open Government Directive, and Strategy for American Innovation are contributing to an environment of unprecedented opportunity for innovators. We hope you will join the growing community of American innovators who are jumping into the work of helping to improve health through the power of information! See you (online or in person) at the Forum!
Today, I am very pleased to talk about a newly enhanced HHS resource that brings to the public much easier and more rapid access to all of the data from HHS grants programs. TAGGS – the Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS) is a reporting tool developed by our HHS Office of Grants and Acquisition Policy and Accountability (OGAPA) and can be found at http://taggs.hhs.gov. A supercool new version of TAGGS has just launched with a lot of new features to celebrate!
Check out the many new financial reporting features – perhaps for your region or grantee institution of interest. You can set up searches on key topic areas and create specialized reports tracking grants data over time. In the future, TAGGS will be providing access to new data sets such as loan programs and repayments.
The timeliness of grants reporting has been greatly enhanced, which should be of benefit to many of our data users. Also check out the new “feedback” line that gives users direct access to the financial data experts at HHS. This feature underscores HHS’s commitment to engage the public to identify new ideas that make the data more meaningful in addressing users’ needs.
I encourage you to visit the new TAGGS site, bookmark the resource, and explore our grants data with the new tools it provides. We’d like to hear from you about your ideas and experiences. And many congratulations to Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources Ellen Murray and the TAGGS team for their pursuit of ever better transparency of government spending data!
Today, on the top floor of the Humphrey Building, we celebrated the completion of another cycle of our HHSinnovates 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, HHSinnovates helps 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.
- A 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!
Remarkable changes are underway across the country in harnessing the power of health information to improve health and health care. As these efforts continue to gain momentum, HHS's Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has just published its new Federal Health IT Strategic Plan -- a framework outlining how it proposes to help continue to support health IT progress over the next five years.
The plan is being published today for public comment at http://healthit.gov/buzz-blog. This is your opportunity to bring your best ideas to bear and build upon the ideas of others. The more folks engage in the public conversation about the plan, the better it will become.
We find that the very best ideas come from open dialogue -- in particular, dialogue powered by folks who are on the front lines, where the action to use health IT to help improve health and care is really happening. This is a wonderful time to share your insights, ask key questions, and help the Office of the National Coordinator chart its future path. We look forward to your comments -- thanks so much in advance for your input!
As Sunshine Week, the national week of dialogue promoting Open Government, comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect upon the progress of Open Government at HHS and just how far we’ve come.
We’re working on a comprehensive update that we’ll be sharing with everyone on April 7, the one year anniversary of our inaugural Open Government Plan. There is so much to celebrate:
- Massive forward progress on HHS’s effort to become the “NOAA of health data” through our flagship Community Health Data Initiative. Now dubbed simply the Health Data Initiative, we’ve expanded the scope of data being liberated to all kinds of data from HHS’s vaults: community health data, clinical provider quality data, consumer product data, medical/scientific data, government spending data, etc. – all accessible through the new HealthData.gov community site, free of charge and without intellectual property constraint, with much more data to come. I could spend many pages just describing the data and APIs that HHS has published over the last year!
- And we’ve engaged in an energetic campaign over the past year to publicize and promote this data to a rapidly growing ecosystem of innovators across the country – through challenges, codeathons, conferences, data deep-dives, and more. Innovators are harnessing the data to power a fast-expanding array of applications and services that create great benefit for the American people -- and also create jobs of the future in the process. To hear more about the latest (incredibly inspiring) examples of these applications, be sure to sign up for the second annual Health Data Initiative Forum, brought to you by the Institute of Medicine and HHS, coming on June 9.
- Significant progress on HHS’s FOIA backlog through the work of teams across the Department – and teams at FDA and CMS in particular -- that have cut HHS’s FOIA backlog in half (in half!) over the course of just one year .
- Growing embrace of prizes and challenges as a new and really exciting way for HHSers to engage creative thinkers and doers across the country – enabled in very large part by the America COMPETES Act, passed in December, that gave prize authority to all agencies across HHS.
- The landmark FDA TRACK initiative that’s published hundreds of FDA performance metrics for ongoing public view – and which is helping FDA improve its internal operations and achieve greater management success to boot.
I could go on and on – and we’ll share more details on April 7. But what I’d really like to do right now is say thank you so very, very much to all of the heroic folks across HHS who are key drivers of our Open Government successes. We’ve got a lot more to do, but I’m so heartened and inspired by the many HHSers (many and growing) who are doing such remarkable work to embed transparency, participation, and collaboration into how HHS operates. May we continue to make progress at an accelerating clip, go Open Government go, and Happy Sunshine Week to all!
Originally posted on HealthData.gov
Welcome to HealthData.gov – an exciting new community on Data.gov! HealthData.gov is a one-stop resource for the growing ecosystem of innovators who are turning data into new applications, services, and insights that can help improve health.
Here’s what you can do on HealthData.gov:
Get free health-related data (and lots of it). Under “Data/Tools,” you can access a comprehensive catalog of health-related data sets available on Data.gov – relevant to all aspects of health, for a broad array of users, supplied by a wide range of federal agencies, and available for free. You can use the enhanced, health-specific categorization and search functions to find the data sets in which you are most interested, and view them, download them or access them via application programming interfaces (APIs). We’ll continue to add new government data sets frequently and update older ones – stay tuned for continual action on this front, with the help of our listserve, Twitter, and RSS feeds! In addition, check out “Other Data Sites” for a growing list of links to non-federal health data sources that can be valuable aids to your work.
Check out what innovators are doing with health-related data. In response to popular demand, HealthData.gov also links you to a brand new “Health Apps Expo,” hosted and managed by the private sector innovation experts at Health 2.0. The Apps Expo shows an expanding array of examples of what innovators have done with health-related data – applications and uses that help consumers, providers, employers, communities, policymakers and others make better-informed decisions and improve health. Get inspired by what other folks have done, and post an entry about your own super cool app!
Connect to other innovators. In HealthData.gov’s blogs and forums, catch up on the latest happenings in the health data community. Rate and rank data sets, open threads of conversation about them, point out what you like and don’t like about them, request new data, and talk about how the data can best be used. Link to current app development competitions on Challenge.gov and Health2Challenge.org – contests to develop the best health apps that fulfill a variety of missions… and throw your hat into the ring!
We are very hopeful that HealthData.gov will be a useful resource for anyone who’s interested in harnessing the power of data to help improve health and create value. And we’ll be listening closely to your suggestions about how we can make HealthData.gov better and better as time goes on. Welcome again, and very much looking forward to the path ahead!
Chief Technology Officer, HHS
An exciting change is happening in government, and HHS is helping to lead the way. President Obama has made clear that openness and innovation in government are first-order priorities for his administration. HHS is acting as a pioneer in advancing a “culture of innovation” throughout our Department, especially through our new HHSinnovates program.
HHSinnovates is an awards program that helps recognize and reward new approaches to fulfilling our mission that are developed by HHS employees. Equally important, it provides a platform for sharing innovations across the 300-plus programs in our Department. It recognizes successful innovations – and it’s even meant to recognize innovative ideas that don’t quite work out as expected, but that help move the ball forward.
Our first cycle of HHSinnovates, conducted earlier this year,was a significant success:
- Over 100 innovations were nominated last spring, with entrants coming from every Operating Division as well as other offices of the Department.
- Nearly 50 semi-finalists were placed on the HHSinnovates intranet site.
- All employees were then invited to vote for their selections.
- Almost 10,000 votes were cast.
- In August, Secretary Sebelius recognized the top six vote winners, and made her own pick of the top three innovations.
Read more about the HHSinnovates program and how HHS is building a culture of innovation. If you’d like to catch some of the spirit and enthusiasm of HHSinnovates, take a look at our short video from the day of the awards ceremony!
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world’s knowledge center for health and medicine, supporting a broad range of electronic information resources that are freely available to the public. Enhancing the use of these resources via web-based and mobile applications has been an important goal, consistent with HHS’s Open Government objectives. With this in mind, NLM has just announced the launch of a web portal for one-stop access to an exciting array of NLM Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These APIs represent a set of tools that amp up the power of NLM resources by enabling other websites and applications to interact directly with them. The practical benefit of these APIs is that they enable developers to build supercool applications that can tap NLM’s vast consumer health information repositories, research databases, and search engines.
APIs are available for many of NLM’s most popular information resources, such as ClinicalTrials.gov, which enables consumers to access information about clinical research studies. The MedlinePlus API enables applications to access the vast array of MedlinePlus health topic data in XML format. There are two APIs provided to enable software developers to access the RxNorm database of drug names and vocabularies. And there’s much, much more – check out the full roster.
As we work to liberate government data via the HHS Open Government Initiative and Data.gov, HHS is enabling new applications of data that have great potential to benefit the public and help improve health. The NLM API portal is an important step in that direction. Take a look and see what innovative ideas come to mind! I’d love to hear about your ideas for using these APIs to help advance health in America.
More information about NLM API sources can be found on the NLM website.
On Aug. 4, HHS completed the first cycle of our new HHSinnovates awards program. Secretary Sebelius announced the six winners of innovation awards in a ceremony at the Humphrey Building headquarters. Teams of employees and others who worked on these winning innovations were present from many different agencies throughout the Department. The ceremony can be viewed here (http://www.hhs.gov/open/innovate/index.html ).
Even more important is the purpose we’re serving. HHSinnovates was created and designed to support a “culture of innovation” in one of the federal government’s largest Departments. As the Secretary said: “We launched the HHSinnovates awards program this year because we recognize that innovation is the lifeblood of continual improvement in our Department’s performance in serving Americans.”
There are a number of innovative aspects to the HHSinnovates program itself. We held an open nomination process for innovation award candidates. And we chose the six top winners through a vote by HHS employees, using our secure intranet site. Then, out of those six, the Secretary made her pick of the top three.
HHSinnovates stems from the Secretary’s commitment to innovation and from the President’s push for more open government. When we launched HHSinnovates, we expected to find that there is a lot of innovation already underway throughout HHS programs, and that is indeed what we discovered. More than 100 qualified candidate innovates were nominated. They included great new ideas of all kinds.
But even though innovation already has a firm foothold at HHS, we want to do even more to make every employee feel that he or she has a unique set of experiences and ideas that need to be shared. Each of us can think of ways to do the job better, and everyone needs to know that we welcome those ideas.
I actually think we should celebrate not only the innovations that prove most successful, but even the new ideas that don’t quite work out, or that get changed before they finally succeed. The truth about innovation is that there are always false starts – but we have to be open to new ideas and let improvement go forward in the best way possible.
Thanks to everyone who took part in this great initial cycle of HHSinnovates! The next cycle starts October 15, so get your innovation candidates ready.
And congratulations to the winners of Cycle One:
The “Secretary’s Pick” awards:
- National Collaboration on Childhood Obesity Research – To address a lack of adequate scientific evidence regarding causes and effective responses to the epidemic of childhood obesity, a public-private collaborative was formed to help steer research across institutions, enable more nimble and rapid research responses, and identify needs quickly. Team: Laura Kettel Kahn, CDC; Rachel Ballard-Barbash, NIH; Tracy Orleans, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Molly Kretsch, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Terry T-K Huang, NIH; Todd Phillips, Academy for Educational Development.
- Text4Baby – Makes free information about pre-natal and post-natal care available to mothers via their mobile phones. Information is timed individually to serve each woman personally, with information available in English and Spanish. Team: Juliette Kendrick,CDC; Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, HRSA; Yvonne Green, CDC; Valerie Scardino, Office of Women’s Health, OPHS; Judy Meehan, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition; Paul Meyer, Voxiva Inc.; Paul Stange, CDC.
- Purchasing Online Tracking System (POTS) – Electronic procurement process and requisition management system that enables NIH to request and track orders throughout the purchasing cycle, reducing errors and delays and reducing burden for staff. Team: Yang Fann, NIH; Trissy Knox, NIH; Gladys Wang, NIH; Quynh Ly, NIH; Robert Dean, NIH; NINDS POTS Support Team, NIH.
And the other awardees selected through the employee vote:
- CDC Lab Recycling Pilot Program – To avoid substantial dumping of plastic containers which had held biohazard materials into waste landfills, CDC laboratorians devised a process for cleaning the containers after use to be suitable for recycling. Team: Sandy Steiner, CDC; Sandy Martin, CDC; Kathy Slawson, CDC.
- Personal Dust Monitor – The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), working with labor, industry and others, developed a personal monitor to measure a miner’s cumulative exposure to dust and enabling reduced disease. Team: John Volkwein, NIOSH; Bruce Watzman, National Mining Association; Jeffrey Kohler, NIOSH; Mike Nemergut, Thermo Scientific; Joe Main, U.S. Department of Labor; Dennis O’Dell, United Mine Workers; Joe Lamonica, Bituminous Coal Operators Association.
CDC Course on Public Health and Aging – To increase understanding throughout CDC of the needs of the rapidly-growing older population of the U.S. and the potential roles of public health in serving older populations, a CDC-wide one-day introductory course was developed and is now made available to all CDC employees. Team: Letia Boseman, CDC; Jeffrey Hall, CDC; Kristine Day, CDC; Andree Harris, CDC; Jason Lang, CDC; Stacey Mattison, CDC.
Over the last few decades, the Nation has made substantial advancements in ensuring the public health, safety, and well-being of the American people, but there is still more to be done. The draft HHS Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2010–2015 describes the steps we will take to achieve our mission to enhance the health and well-being of Americans, by providing for effective health and human services, and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. The draft Strategic Plan describes our strategic goals, objectives, and strategies, as well as performance measures we will use to track our progress.
Tell us what you think about the draft Strategic Plan. Comment – and read what others are saying. The public comment period runs until August 14.
You can begin reading and commenting on the draft Strategic Plan’s goals and objectives now. There is an opportunity to comment on the objectives and strategies at the bottom of each objective page. You can also make general comments on the Plan here.
Here’s some very exciting news regarding the Community Health Data Initiative! Our intrepid colleagues at Health 2.0, Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, are launching four new application development challenges today under the auspices of the overall Health 2.0 2010 Developer Challenge, announced at our Community Health Data Forum in June.
These new challenges encompass building tools to help kids understand and apply health data, applications that inspire physical activity, applications that turn patient data into useful services for patients, and new tools for medical providers. Check out these challenges at http://health2challenge.org, where you can find out more details about them -- and sign up to participate!
The fruit of these challenges will be showcased in October in San Francisco. Health 2.0 is also very interested in birthing additional challenges, and is looking for additional ideas! Think about it – if you had a challenge to make to effect change through health data, what would it be?
I am very happy to announce the release of version 1.1 of our Open Government Plan!
It’s an updated version of our Plan, reflecting comments and input we’ve gotten since the release of our initial Plan on April 7.
What’s different about version 1.1? We’ve added more clarity, specificity, and depth of explanatory policy detail in multiple areas throughout the Plan. We’ve also included exciting updates on our work to implement the Plan – work that’s moving ahead at full throttle on fronts ranging from our flagship Community Health Data Initiative to our new Secretary’s Innovation Awards Program (HHSinnovates) to our new Community of Practice promoting participation and collaboration across HHS. In addition to our updated Open Government Plan, we’re also proud to post another major Open Government deliverable: our plan for how we’re going to improve the quality of the financial data we report.
Stay tuned for more implementation updates in this blog space! And please keep your ideas and thoughts coming – we appreciate them enormously!
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I’m very excited to update you about the implementation of a key part of our Open Government Plan – our new Secretary’s Innovation Awards program, HHSInnovates!
HHSInnovates is a new competition that we’ll be running twice per year here at HHS. Its purpose is to identify and celebrate the top innovations in how HHS does business – innovations that have succeeded in improving our service to the American public, including breakthroughs in HHS transparency, public engagement, and collaboration across HHS and with the world outside HHS.
So, here’s a short status report on our maiden voyage of HHSInnovates. We launched the inaugural round of HHSInnovates 6 weeks ago. Since then, over 126 submissions have come in from teams across HHS. Now, things are really getting interesting, as employees will be able to use Web 2.0 technology to vote and comment on those that they think are best – a process that kicked off this week! Based on employee voting and Secretary Sebelius’ selections, we will be announcing 3 winning submissions in about a month and will be promoting them as our leaders in HHS innovation. Talk about suspense!
As an added bonus, I recently had the opportunity to talk with Craig Newmark of Craig’s List, who is a maven for innovation in the federal workspace. Read what Craig’s got to say about our program by visiting his blog.
In early August, we’ll announce the three teams of winners – live and in person via the web – and launch an HHS Innovations Gallery to highlight these and other winning ideas at work for you! And I’ll be here to tell you more about the innovation breakthroughs on the day of the event. Stay tuned!
By Todd Park
The Community Health Data Initiative is launched in a Forum at the Institute of Medicine, Washington, D.C. - June 2, 2010.
Under the initiative, HHS health data will be made freely available so that software developers can create innovative applications and make the data more useful for consumers and communities. At the June 2 event, Secretary Sebelius explains the initiative, and early developers demonstrated their new applications. See more at the HHS OpenGov website http://www.hhs.gov/open/datasets/communityhealthdata.html.
The live webchat has now ended. Recorded video will be posted at http://www.hhs.gov/open/datasets/initiative_launch.html
By Todd Park
On behalf of the HHS Open Government team, I’m really excited to share some important news in our continuing work to liberate HHS data in the name of improving health!
As those of you who checked out our Open Government Plan may recall, one of our flagship Open Government efforts is a campaign we’re calling the Community Health Data Initiative. The purpose of the Initiative is to help Americans understand health performance in our communities and to spark action to improve health – by making HHS’s vast stores of data on community health easily accessible by the public and putting it in the hands of innovators who can turn it into super cool new applications.
On Wednesday, June 2, HHS and the Institute of Medicine will host a big public meeting on the Community Health Data Initiative that will showcase what early innovators have been able to do with our data -- the Community Health Data Forum: Harnessing the Power of Information to Improve Health. You can join a webcast of this Forum at http://www.hhs.gov/open on June 2 at 9 a.m. ET.(View Agenda). Come join Secretary Sebelius, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, Harvey Fineberg, Aneesh Chopra, and me as we celebrate an initial glimpse into what community health data combined with innovation mojo can do and discuss the path forward!
Let me share a bit of the story behind this. On March 11, the Institute of Medicine and HHS convened health care experts, technology developers, Web 2.0 visionaries, and others to explore what could be done with HHS’s community health data. The group brainstormed an incredibly cool set of ideas – and then, even more impressively, volunteered to pursue the development of many of them, roping in additional folks along the way. In the less than 90 days since that meeting, more than a dozen new or improved data applications using HHS’s community health data have been developed! These are applications that can help raise awareness of community health performance, help civic leaders and consumers understand how best to improve health, and put vital health information at one’s fingertips in creative new ways. I am dying to tell you more about these apps, but have been sworn to secrecy. If you want to know more, you’ll just have to check out the webcast on June 2.
And we’d very much like to hear your thoughts about the different applications that get presented on June 2 and on the Community Health Data Initiative overall. If you’re willing, please post your comments here on my blog. Looking forward to hanging out with folks on the webcast next Wednesday!
To learn more about and download HHS data resources being provided as part of the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI), select this button to go to the interim CHDI data sources webpage.
More information about the Community Health Data Initiative and HHS Data Sources can be found here.
This blog was originally posted on the White House OSTP Blog on May 03, 2010
By Aneesh Chopra
For those of you unable to participate in last Friday’s summit on innovation through prizes, challenges, and open grantmaking, I am pleased to report on an opportunity to put your best ideas to work. One of the participants in Friday’s meeting, the Sunlight Foundation, highlighted the “Design for America” competition, which is offering a $5,000 prize for the best visualization of community health data.
A terrific collection of community health information is already available thanks to the Community Health Data Initiative, one of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) open-government flagship projects. According to Sunlight, “the visualizations should contribute toward the development of community health data dashboards that will enhance usability and understandability of health data for citizens and civic leaders. Entries will be judged based on how effectively, accurately, and creatively they enable users to gain insight about health performance in their communities as compared to others.”
Are you interested in improving the health performance of your community? Curious about how the quality and cost of healthcare services in your area compare with others? Willing to put your technology talents to work to spur change in our nation’s health system? Then spend a few weeks figuring out how to visualize the most compelling data sets available free of charge at HHS.
I am hopeful that when we tap into the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, we will strengthen our democracy and help improve the lives of everyday Americans. Thanks for participating.
Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
I am writing to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s arrival at HHS! It has been a truly historic year by any measure. And it marks just the beginning of what is unfolding as a remarkable era in the life of HHS. In fact, we are marking the anniversary not by looking back, but by looking forward: check out the declaration of the Secretary’s Strategic Initiatives and Key Inter-Agency Collaborations.
This declaration gives all of us in the Open Government movement even more reason to celebrate, as Secretary Sebelius has designated “Foster Open Government” as a key Inter-Agency Collaboration! As the Secretary says, “This is the perfect time to be rolling out our Open Government Plan.” As HHS undertakes the most ambitious agenda in its history, we are going to be leveraging the power of transparency, participation, and collaboration to help us be of maximum help to the American people. As we’ve said many times and say in our Plan: Open Government is not “one more thing to do.” Open Government is a change in HOW government does what it’s supposed to do. Publishing information for the public, engaging citizens in our work, and collaborating across government and with the world outside government are going to be essential to maximizing the success of health reform implementation and each of the Secretary’s other key initiatives and priorities.
We very much look forward to your continued comments on our Open Government Plan – more on that in this space soon!
We are delighted to announce the debut of our HHS Open Government Plan, posted on this Website!
Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Sebelius, we are committing to take Open Government to a whole new level at HHS. We believe that greater transparency of our data and operations, expansion of opportunities for citizens to participate in government, and improved collaboration across government and with the world outside government are essential to our ability to deliver optimally on our mission of advancing the health and well-being of the American people.
Our plan represents an enormous amount of thinking and hard work by folks from across HHS -- Open Government innovators who are spearheading efforts like the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Dashboard and the Food and Drug Administration’s FDA-TRACK Website, both of which are debuting in beta with the launch of this plan. Our plan celebrates the HHSers who have committed to unleash the power of HHS data to create public good through efforts like the Community Health Data Initiative, who are working mightily to move the department from under-performance to excellence with respect to Freedom of Information Act operations, and who are advancing a culture of Open Government across the department through initiatives like the Secretary’s Innovation Awards program and a new “community of practice” focused on making HHS more participatory and collaborative.
Fittingly, our plan has also benefited greatly from public input – including ideas gathered on this Website. For example, Snobound and Tommy J; we took your advice to speak plainly and avoid government jargon in our plan – let us know if we succeeded. Nancy Watzman; we hope you like our commitment to provide food, drug, and medical device recall data in downloadable, structured form later this year. Megan of Silicon Valley; we’ve adopted not one, but two of your ideas -- we’re going to be piloting an online employee idea-generation program at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this year, and we’re also embracing your idea of encouraging Web developers to make useful applications using our raw data through efforts like public application development contests. In fact, we’ve mobilized very quickly to launch our first such challenge, in partnership with the Sunlight Foundation: a competition for best interactive visualization of community health data. Check it out at http://sunlightlabs.com/contests/designforamerica -- and if you’re a developer, enter the competition!
As excited as we are about our Open Government Plan, it’s just the beginning of our journey toward a more open and effective HHS. It’s a plan and course of action that we will continue to update over time as we seek to change how HHS operates for the better. We’re eager to get your feedback and input on the plan – you can comment on every page, and we will be collecting this input on an ongoing basis through this Website. Any and all input you can provide is more than welcome – it’s essential to our ability to advance openness at HHS and do the best job we can for the American people. Thank you very much for your consideration, and we are very much looking forward to undertaking the next phase of our Open Government journey together!
Folks have posted terrific Open Government thoughts and ideas over the past few weeks – incredibly thoughtful and inspiring stuff! Initial observations regarding the latest round of comments:
- We are getting suggestions to not just release raw data sets, but also to focus on how to make data maximally helpful to citizens. This makes enormous sense to me. Shrgp in California asks that government information be “collected and presented in a way that citizens can easily absorb.” “I do not mean dumbed-down,” says Shrgp. “Maps and grids are lean, and information dense.” Megan in Silicon Valley recommends engaging in outreach efforts to web developers to encourage them to make applications using our raw data that will be useful to citizens. These efforts could include application development contests and other mechanisms.
- Folks are also offering increasingly rich advice about what kinds of data would be most useful to release – ranging from Nancy Watzman’s comments about the value of providing food, drug, and medical device recall data (among other FDA data) to comments from multiple folks (Samantha Collier, Amy Romano, and others) on how HHS data could help provide additional insight into health care delivery patterns across the country. This kind of input will be very helpful to us on an ongoing basis as we brainstorm future data releases.
- I love Megan of Silicon Valley’s observation that “the same transparent and open process that you are using to collect ideas from the public can be used equally effectively in-house.” Megan, I think you are absolutely right. We need to leverage Open Government approaches not just to harness the ideas of the public, but also to unleash the full power of our HHS workforce, which is positively brimming with ideas on how we can better deliver on our mission.
- An anonymous contributor comments that videos and webcasts on what is going on in different programs across HHS would be very helpful – I think that this is a wonderful idea.
- Also quite notable are comments from folks like Gary Ward of Burlington, who strongly supports NIH’s approach to ensuring public access to biomedical literature and suggests extending this framework to other agencies, and Timothy Donaghy of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who writes eloquently about the importance of allowing scientists and experts to speak freely with the public.
Your comments are helping to shape both our initial Open Government Plan (coming soon) and our ongoing thinking about Open Government. We see our initial Plan as just the beginning of what will be a continuous journey toward ever more substantive transparency, participation, and collaboration at HHS. In that spirit, we are going to be soliciting additional public input on our Plan once it’s posted and continuing to gather ideas from the public on an ongoing basis after that. We will be updating our Plan on a regular basis and keeping you posted on our Open Government activity in general through this blog and Web site.
Thanks so very much again to all for your contributions and very much looking forward to the next steps in our Open Government journey together!
Thank you to everyone who posted responses to both my blog and HHS’s initial Open Government Plan outline!
Very interesting responses. I wanted to give a shout-out to several folks in particular:
- To Scott in NJ, Scott Ruhl in CA, and Survivor in Iowa – who collectively pointed out that we have a great opportunity to advance Open Government through making the work of our federal advisory committees more accessible.
- To Snobound in VA and Tommy J, thanks for the posts urging us to avoid government jargon and speak plainly. It’s hard to be transparent if nobody knows what on earth you’re saying. We’ll try to lead by example by writing our Open Government plan in a way that folks can actually understand – and by making this blog a jargon-free zone.
- To Mother Horta, who chastised me for not making it easier for folks to offer ideas and then have them discussed. Mother, you may have already noticed that there’s a new feature in the “Our Plan” discussion – “Share Ideas” buttons under each category of Open Government action. Under “Share Ideas,” folks can offer ideas and suggestions, to which other folks can respond and which folks can rate.
Which brings me to my next question for everyone: what are your ideas regarding how HHS can best engage the American public in what we do for the betterment of the country? How can HHS collaborate in innovative ways with citizens and with organizations outside government to deliver most effectively on our mission of helping to improve health and well-being?
For a start to this particular conversation, check out the detailed, helpful post by Kate Walser of VA in the “Share Participation Ideas” area under “Our Plan.” Kate, thank you for your extremely thoughtful post. Others: please let us know what you think of Kate’s ideas, and add to her suggestions! Particularly interesting would be ideas which are simple, effective, and quick momentum builders for increased civic engagement in the work of HHS.
In case it’s not obvious by now, we plan to make this blog not about us, but about you – about your ideas and your thoughts regarding how HHS can best make progress on Open Government. Please keep your suggestions coming. We plan to keep blogging about Open Government long after our Open Government Plan is published. Like so many things, Open Government isn’t a destination, but a journey. And it’s a journey that should ultimately be powered by you.
On behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), welcome to the conversation about Open Government!
We are eager to get your thoughts regarding how we can make HHS more transparent to the public, improve accountability, increase opportunities for the public to engage in what we’re doing, and encourage collaboration between our employees, citizens, and the private sector. In this blog, we’ll be exploring these themes on an ongoing basis, and are extremely interested in your feedback.
As a first topic, we’d like to ask you about one of my favorite subjects: data.
HHS sits atop an extraordinary array of data. In addition to more traditional data publishing mechanisms, we are enthusiastic members of the Data.gov community, and have already made over 100 raw data sets and data access tools available on Data.gov. These include:
- Detailed summaries of Medicare expenditures on physician services, which allow the public to understand patterns of Medicare spending and analyze the types of services being delivered to address the health needs of the Medicare population
- Hospital-by-hospital quality performance statistics compiled by Medicare, which can help inform consumer choices regarding where to get care
- A continually updated data set representing all technologies available for licensing from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), helpful to entrepreneurs and companies looking to drive innovation
- And much more
And we’re just getting started. We believe that increasing public access to HHS data (while ensuring that we continue to protect individual privacy and confidentiality) is key to our ability to deliver on our mission of improving the health and welfare of the nation. Democratizing access to our data will improve public knowledge of what HHS does. It will help illuminate what’s going on with respect to our nation’s health and facilitate action by citizens, providers, patients, researchers, employers, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and others to improve health and well-being. It could provide the basis for new products and services that help Americans get better health care.
To achieve maximum success in this effort, we need your help. What new HHS data would you like to see us prioritize for publication? What are your thoughts about the quality of the data we’ve already published? What ideas do you have about how the nation can utilize HHS data to generate maximum public good?
Thank you in advance for your ideas and engagement – we appreciate it tremendously!
In her piece called "The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation", U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said, “I envision men, women, and children who are mentally and physically fit to live their lives to the fullest. We must help our communities make the important and life-saving connection between being healthy, fit and living well.”
To encourage innovators to create cool and fun mobile apps that empower individuals to make healthy choices, the Office of the Surgeon General launched the Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge last December in collaboration with the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). We had a tremendous response to this competition with more than 80 apps submitted. Many thanks to the all-star panelists (Michelle Kwan, Wayne Jonas, Cornell McClellan, Farzad Mostashari, Todd Park, Shellie Pfohl,) who reviewed the submitted apps.
You can find the winners at www.challenge.gov; the apps can be downloaded free for all to access.
We encourage all Americans to check out the winning apps and use them, just as the Surgeon General will do in her Journey to Joy. There are two apps that provide ways for children to learn about and make healthy choices, and these are highlighted as honorable mentions. Find out what app is right to help you to live and maintain a healthier life. Most of all, have fun and enjoy living healthier.
The nation’s first National Prevention Strategy, release by the Surgeon General in June 2011, provides a national plan for better health and wellness with the goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. It is our hope that this competition not only empowers the public to live healthy and fit lives, but also inspires technology developers to create and further refine cool tools and apps that all can use to become healthier. While this challenge focused on physical activity, healthy eating and integrated health, there are also cool apps available to help people stop smoking; check out the National Cancer Institute’s new “QuitSTART” app in iTunes and the SmokeFreeTXT program.
You can now follow the Surgeon General on Twitter - @SGRegina - in her Journey to Joy. Follow, tweet, and re-tweet the Surgeon General. Also, let us know what you think of the winning apps. If you have a favorite app, dial in your comments below. Let your voice be heard and live healthy, fit and well.