Featured Activities for Participation and Collaboration
In looking to the future, HHS agencies are creating innovative new approaches to participation and collaboration. These approaches are engaging Web 2.0 technologies that include the following functional capabilities:
- Blogging, rating and ranking of ideas, policies, priorities
- Crowdsourcing to identify public opinion and preferences
- Group collaboration tools such as wikis, portals, and file-sharing services
- Idea generation tools
- Use of mobile technologies such as text messaging services
- On-line awards and competitions.
Described below are samples of planned HHS activities for 2010 that are engaging innovative new participation and collaboration mechanisms.
Delivery of Consumer Information on Patient Safety and Health
Product Safety Text-Message Pilot
FDA has launched a six-month pilot to assess the use of text messages as a channel for reaching healthcare professionals, patients, and other members of the public. Once participants subscribe to the pilot, they will receive real-time MedWatch text message alerts on topics of interest they select. The content of the text messages will consist of alerts that provide timely new safety information on human drugs, medical devices, vaccines and other biologics, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. The alerts contain actionable information that may affect both treatment and diagnostic choices for healthcare professional and patient. To assess impact and user experience, after six weeks have passed, and then four months, the participants will receive a text message with a link to a survey.
The Text4baby program
Text4baby is an innovative mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. Through Text4baby, pregnant women and new moms receive timely health information via free mobile/cell phone text messages. This service was made possible through a broad private-public partnership that includes government, businesses, professional organizations, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. A comprehensive list of partners can be found at www.text4baby.org/partner/html. Federal agencies provided input on evidence-based scientific recommendations, health promotion and disease prevention programs, and community health resources available to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations. Individuals who sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish) receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including nutrition, seasonal flu prevention and treatment, mental health issues, risks of tobacco use, oral health, immunization schedules, and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to public clinics and support services for prenatal and infant care. Information provided to mothers through Text4baby can help them take care of their health and give their babies the best possible start in life.
Use of Social Media to Reduce Harm from Tobacco Products
The Food and Drug Administration is planning to increase use of social media tools including widgets, podcasts, YouTube, and other novel avenues to increase awareness of and compliance with the restrictions on advertising and access to cigarette and smokeless tobacco products by youth.
Expanding the Functionality of Personal Health Records
CDC is exploring the use of electronic Personal Health Records (PHR) as a way to 1) distribute health data to individuals who participate in the NHANES in-person survey and 2) deliver personalized CDC health information directly to consumers. A CDC pilot demonstrated that data collected through NHANES could be provided securely to individual participants through a PHR to augment or replace individual reports sent through the mail. Participants were able to control their personal health information and choose to share their data with others or retract that capability on demand. The pilot demonstrated that data could be linked to health information resources and that NHANES data can be coded using standard methods and populated into a Continuity of Care Record -- making it readable across PHRs and electronic medical records in doctors’ offices and hospitals. Additionally, CDC and Microsoft are investigating the potential use of Web 2.0 tools that allow users of Microsoft’s PHR platform, HealthVault, to have personally tailored CDC disease management and prevention resources delivered to their PHR to improve informed decision making about their current and future health needs.
User-Friendly Information Services for Health Care Delivery
Using Cell Phone Applications as an Effective Health Care Program Dissemination Tool
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will be assessing the effectiveness of cell phone applications to increase the dissemination and implementation of effective health care program products among underserved priority populations. This will help overcome mobility barriers and enable access to high value information by users without readily available computers.
Delivering Computerized Geography-based Inventories of Patient Care Services
The Indian Health Service delivers health care services via hundreds of patient care facilities scattered across 35 states. The type of on-site services offered varies significantly place-to-place. A computerized patient portal is being developed to help patients determine which services are available at the nearest site and locations and travel distances to other sites where needed services may be available.
Medical Research Connections and Collaborations for Patient Engagement
Advancing Diabetes Research through Crowdsourcing
Via a Harvard program being pursued in partnership with InnoCentive, HHS is learning about how crowdsourcing and social networking can be harnessed to advance diabetes research. This approach is helping to generate new research ideas to address complex challenges of living with diabetes and will yield new perspectives on how research is done.
Advancing Health of Women Study
A new resource for public engagement in medical research has been developed through a partnership with the Army of Women and the National Cancer Institute. Through the use of Web 2.0 tools for connectivity and collaboration, women -- with or without breast cancer – can sign up and respond to a series of periodic secure online questionnaires about their health, family health history, nutrition, and physician activity. This population of women and their data is then connected to the research community via the web. Women can add more information about their health over time, enabling more research questions to be tested. This new model of engagement has the potential to revolutionize how research studies are conducted.
Resources for Public Information Needs about Medical Research
Recently, the public was provided a new information resource by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the Research Portfolio On-line Reporting Tools (RePORTER) system, which provides summary information about all biomedical research projects and related activities from NIH and other HHS agencies. In addition to facilitating public participation, RePORTER also provides the basis for more effective collaboration between agencies. In addition to providing a central repository that spans several HHS Operating Divisions engaged in health-related research, RePORTER provides information on research funded by the Veteran's Administration. Components of the Department of Defense and other research agencies also have requested information on the system, increasing the potential for even broader collaboration and coordination.
Technology for Teamwork
Enabling Collaboration among HHS Employees through Enhanced Access to Information Technology
One of the recent advances implemented to help the HHS workforce collaborate across the department involves technical engineering and revisions of management policies that provide HHS employees with improved access to common software programs and tools. The diversity in the types of work at HHS, breadth of the mission, and geographically-dispersed workforce of HHS have over the years led to deployment of multiple information systems in HHS agencies, which created complications for workers who wished to access common software to work on common projects. This problem has now been solved. The net effect of this advance will allow project officers of a cross-agency team to work together via the intranet and overcome geographic, organizational, and resource boundaries that previously slowed progress and limited collaborative work.
Implementing New Electronic Collaboration Platforms for HHS Planning and Evaluation Activities
One of the many ways that new projects are developed and existing ones are improved is through the use of agency planning and evaluation activities. Across HHS, this often means that a broad array of experience and knowledge from across the organization and from the public is needed. Current approaches to planning and evaluation are limited by the lack of knowing where expertise, data, and information are located throughout the organization. The emergence of electronic technologies to support group document collaboration, expert locator services, crowd-sourcing, wiki functions, and other related activities have brought the potential for new efficiencies in government planning and evaluation. A recent survey conducted at HHS indicates that a small percentage of employees have work experience with these technologies, but are eager to learn more about how to use them to improve their work. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) will be deploying and piloting several new collaboration tools. These will include a wiki tool for collaborative editing, a desktop tool for online conferencing, and an analysis of the organization's suitability for deployment of more comprehensive collaboration tool that would integrate a number of collaborative functions into a single platform. Based on lessons learned from the pilot deployments, ASPE will consider adopting these technologies organization-wide. Lessons learned from deployment in this atmosphere may provide useful lessons for broader deployment across HHS.
Better Healthcare through Better Information
Nationwide Health Information Network – Direct
A key component of the Nation’s emerging health information technology infrastructure is the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) – a set of standards, policies, and services that enable the secure exchange of health information over the Internet. “NHIN Direct” is the latest development in the evolution of the NHIN. It’s an important effort to develop a “lightweight on-ramp” to the NHIN that will enable simple, direct exchanges of information between providers, labs, pharmacies, and consumers -- and which will be easy to adopt and implement. In a process that launched on March 1, NHIN Direct is being designed in close collaboration with the community of potential users, with the entire process taking place in the open, in public, on a NHIN Direct wikispace. NHIN Direct will then be implemented in real-world tests and deployments by members of the community – with HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) playing a coordinating and convening role. The gist of the NHIN Direct strategy is to utilize a community-driven approach to ramp up and power NHIN Direct-powered health information exchange.
Gathering Public Input on the Rollout of Health Information Technology
In an effort to reach very diverse stakeholder groups, HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is communicating through a variety of mediums, including encouraging bi-directional communication in a blog format. ONC blog authors provide opinion regarding ONC events and offer a personal perspective on current agency events. Readers are encouraged to leave comments on the blog and are able to rank comments according to favorability, thus helping the ONC communication team identify trends in reader opinion. The ONC blog is syndicated and often re-published on external websites by members of the public.
Finding New Ideas – Innovation in the Work Place
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Plans Electronic Suggestion Box
In a new approach to using employees’ experience and know-how to solve complex problems, CMS will be piloting a new electronic employee suggestion box, which will use crowdsourcing, rating and ranking capabilities to identify the best ideas and solutions. The pilot will provide a way for CMS employees to offer unbounded suggestions and ideas relevant to CMS programs and CMS as a place to work. CMS will also ask employees to submit their best ideas for improving specific program or administrative areas.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Innovative Employee Engagement Initiative: PeopleFirst
Open government concepts have been applied internally at SAMHSA to improve program management and measurement. SAMHSA has launched an innovative, employee-driven organizational development initiative titled “PeopleFirst.” Through a collaborative intranet space and virtual and physical suggestion boxes, employees submit ideas for improvements in both programmatic and administrative domains that are then further explored and worked on by the employees themselves. This multi-faceted initiative is leading to significant gains in operations, level of employee engagement, and overall workforce productivity.
Hi, my name is Demi, I am currently a nursing student. I think that the new approaches concerning the use of technology is a good way to provide information to the public and those who work in the healthcare industry.It is also a progressive way by networking with others as a way to enhance research and teamwork.This is a great way to improve the state of health care in the workplace and for the public.
Keep up the good work bro.Your article is really great and I truly enjoyed reading it.Waiting for some more great articles like this from you in the coming days.
The Secretary's annnoucement titled Expedited Efforts By HHS To Work With Insurers to Voluntarily Provide Coverage for Graduating College Seniors and Young Adults under Age Twenty-Six in Advance of September Start Date in New Law is a good first step. Another step would be to accelerate implementation of coverage for adult children under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. OPM is currently planning to begin coverage January 2011. It shouldn't be too difficult to begin coverage July 1, 2010, and it would make sense financially.