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May 29, 2014
Contact: HHS Press Office

Public voting opens to select top innovation at HHS

Today HHS announced the opening of public voting to select the People’s Choice Award winner in this year’s Health and Human Services Innovates, a competition designed to recognize employee achievements in solving workplace challenges. The People’s Choice Award is decided by what the public believes is the best innovation of the year from the select list of finalists.  People can vote for one of the six finalist innovation projects from now through June 6 at http://www.hhs.gov/idealab/pathways/hhs-innovates/.

This year’s finalist projects address issues pertaining to breast cancer, ladder safety, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the drug approval process, and food safety.

“Through HHS Innovates we shine a light on our employees who bring new ideas and concepts to problem-solving in service to our mission,” said Bryan Sivak, HHS chief technology officer and entrepreneur in residence.  “The People’s Choice Award underscores the importance of the public’s voice in promoting a culture of innovation at HHS.”  This year marks the seventh round, recognizing more than 200 HHS employees for their achievements.

HHS Innovates is among the pathways and programs of the HHS IDEA Lab dedicated to business modernization across the agency.  The following are details of each of the six finalist projects this year:

Breast Cancer Startup Challenge – The first of its kind, a national, university student-based startup competition, the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge was launched by the National Cancer Institute in partnership with the Avon Foundation and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The primary goals were to accelerate the process of bringing emerging breast cancer technologies to market and to stimulate the creation of start-up businesses around the inventions.  As a result of this challenge, 10 new startups are expected to launch this summer.

Ladder Safety: NIOSH has an App for That – Setting up ladders at a proper angle and following safety guidelines is an effective way to reduce the risk of ladder fall injuries – a persistent hazard in the workplace and at home.  The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Ladder Safety app – the first of its kind for the industry – uses the latest safety research and smart phone technology to deliver free, innovative and easy-to-use ladder positioning tools, checklists, and guides into the hands of ladder users wherever and whenever they are needed.  This app is available for iPhone and Android mobile devices.

Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role – Imagine combining the reach of the Web and the power of community engagement to reduce suicide, the tenth leading cause of death in the nation.  Using echo sites, which are community-organized gatherings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration partnered with the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Women’s Health and  local communities to hold dialogues, transforming participants into change agents capable of spreading the message that everyone plays a role in preventing suicide. 

Using Motion Comics to Educate Young People About HIV and STD’s – Over half of all sexually transmitted infections occur among people 15 – 24 years of age.  To promote HIV and Sexuallly-transmitted disease awareness and prevention among youth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used a very popular form of mainstream entertainment, the motion comic, a type of comic that incorporates components of traditional print comic books and animation, to engage this population.  This innovation represents a novel effort by a public health agency to use motion comics to engage and educate young people about the risks of HIV and STDs through entertainment and animation.

JumpStarting Drug Review – The Food and Drug Administration’s JumpStart program is modernizing the review process for drug approvals.  FDA medical reviewers are using JumpStart’s automated analytics and data-driven tools to more efficiently assess data from clinical trials.  This innovation demonstrates the value that data analytics can play in allowing the FDA to more effectively manage complex drug reviews.  The Jumpstart approach has the potential for application to other areas subject to FDA review. 

Whole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food Safety – Sometimes the food we eat can be hazardous; finding contaminated foods before consumers become ill is a major challenge. Identifying disease-causing organisms that can be found in food can be a slow and cumbersome process using conventional detection testing methods.  Whole genome sequencing technology can speed up detection and enable faster interventions to stop an outbreak of disease in its tracks.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered with agencies across state and federal government, including the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Biotechnology Information, to engage in a project showcasing the benefits of using Whole Genome Sequencing for food surveillance and detection purposes.

The People's Choice Award selection will be announced this summer.  More information about the HHS innovation activities may be found on the HHS IDEA Lab website at hhs.gov/idealab.


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: May 29, 2014

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