HHS Ignite Winter 2015: Announcing the 13 Selected Teams

In October, employees from across HHS had the opportunity to submit to our HHS Ignite Accelerator their ideas on how to make HHS a more modern and effective organization. In a previous post, we mentioned that we received 72 proposals which were reviewed and culled down to 28 finalists. After an extensive review process, we are now excited to announce that 13 project teams have been selected into the Winter 2015 Class of Ignite! Below you’ll find information on these selected teams with a summary of their problem statement and proposed project. Beginning in January, these teams will embark on a 3 month journey where they will be challenged to dive into the problems, better understand their customers, and beta-test solutions to some of the biggest challenges within HHS. Join me in congratulating these teams!

A ‘Prevention Architecture’ for the Second Decade

The second decade of life – years 10-19 – is a critical period in an individual’s growth and development. During these years, health-promoting or health damaging actions begin to become established behaviors, influencing health throughout life. Yet there has never been a comprehensive “prevention architecture” to help guide local leaders in building a community environment that promotes health and healthy development among persons 10-19 years of age. This team proposes to begin exploring this prevention architecture with community leaders, building on the high-level findings of the 2012 Second Decade Summit. The Team:

  • Patrick O’Carroll (Project Lead), HHS Seattle Region
  • Evelyn M. Kappeler, HHS Office of Adolescent Health

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Wanda Jones, HHS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health


Building Tech-forecasting into FDA Operations

The FDA is tasked by Congress to regulate a high-tech industry. But new technologies present disruptive paradigms that strain regulatory science and policies. Industry needs consistent and science-based information from the FDA so as to provide a stable framework for the marketplace. In response to this, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) within the FDA will soon be interfacing with an initiative to better anticipate the impacts of future cutting edge technologies. This team proposes to formulate an internal business process to operationalize the findings from this initiative in order to support business decision making. The Team:

  • James Coburn (Project Lead), FDA/CDRH
  • Jessica Hernandez, FDA/CDRH
  • Jennifer Kelly, FDA/CDRH
  • David Hwang, FDA/CDRH
  • Kathryn O’Callaghan, FDA/CDRH

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Victor Krauthamer, Division Director, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration


CDC Epidemic Prediction Initiative

Preparing for and responding appropriately to epidemics is a critical function of the CDC and public health experts in academia and local governments across the world. The effectiveness of public health actions is greatest when risks can be anticipated, but predicting epidemics is challenging. To foster and accelerate epidemic forecasting for public health decision making, this team proposes an open-access web portal that publishes disease forecasts and provides a platform for forecast development and evaluation. The Team:

  • Michael Johansson (Project Lead), CDC/NCEZID
  • Matthew Biggerstaff, CDC/NCIRD

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Hal Margolis, Branch Chief, Dengue Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC


Connecting CHCs to Transportation to Improve Health

Obtaining regular health care screenings and exams and following-up on prescribed treatment regimens is critical to and avoiding costly hospital admissions/readmissions. However, lack of reliable transportation is often a key factor in many missed medical appointments, including those at federally funded Community Health Centers (CHCs) and particularly among older patients. Building off of an initiative at Veterans Affairs, this cross-federal team proposes a “mobility management model” to help connect local transportation options with Community Health Centers providing care for elderly patients who may lack access to transportation. The Team:

  • Greg Link (Project Lead), ACL/AOA
  • Danielle Nelson, ACL/AOA
  • Rik Opstelten, Office of Rural and Targeted Programs, Department of Transportation
  • Paul Perry, Veterans Transportation Program, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Courtney Hoskins, ACL/Denver Regional Office
  • Suma Nair, HRSA/BPHC

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Carol Crecy, Director, Office of Caregiver and Supportive Services, Administration on Aging, ACL


Developing a Real-Time EHR Data Collection Process

Local health care and public health organizations have been exploring ways to leverage information in electronic health records (EHRs) in order provide better health care and public health services. For the CDC, EHRs presents the potential to enhance existing disease surveillance by adding information on the real-time prevalence, treatment, and control of health conditions. This team is partnering with a local health system in Atlanta to test processes for anonymizing EHR data collection and reporting through visualizations critical surveillance information so as to facilitate better health care delivery and public health services. The Team:

  • Matthew Ritchey (Project Lead), CDC/ONDIEH
  • Linda Roesch, CDC/ONDIEH
  • Sarah Kier, The Emory Clinic

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Michael Schooley, Branch Chief, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Office of Noncommunicable Diseases, Injury and Environmental Health (ONDIEH), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention


Dynamic Risk-Informed Inspectional Work Plan

The FDA conducts each year tens of thousands of inspections of products and  manufacturing plants in order to help ensure the safety of our food supply and the products – like children’s toys – distributed throughout the country. The FDA does not inspect all products and manufacturers, rather it must plan out which sites to inspect when. However, the current planning process is cumbersome and sometimes produces inaccurate results, making risk-based targeting challenging. This team proposes a data-driven, risk-informed, and transparent approach to work planning so as to better facilitate smart inspectional work plans. The Team:

  • John Hassenplug (Project Lead), FDA/ORA
  • Sarah Pichette, FDA/ORA
  • Leila Lackey, FDA/ORA
  • Michael Fesko, FDA/ORA
  • Stephen Manza, FDA/ORA

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Katherine Bent, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance Policy, Office of Policy and Risk Management, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Drug Administration


FAST! (FDA Accredited Study Sites)

When industry wants to submit a new drug for approval, they include data on the efficacy of that drug. That data is gathered and compiled by a private-sector “Study Site”. Insuring the data provided by a Site is accurate is an integral part of the drug approval process at the FDA. However, the process to validate the data is a significant bottleneck in the drug approval process. Under the current inspection programs, a Site that submits data could be inspected as much as three times in a year because of the high number of applications the same site is supporting. To reduce the backlog, this team proposes to explore an accreditation program for Sites conducting clinical trials for companies seeking drug approval from FDA. If successful, this program can reduce drug approval time and costs to FDA. The Team:

  • Hasan Irier (Project Lead), FDA/CDER
  • Brian Folian, FDA/CDER
  • Ashley Saba, FDA/CDER
  • Chase Bourke, FDA/CDER
  • Kara Scheibner, FDA/CDER

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Young Moon Choi, Pharmacologist, Office of Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmaceutics, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration


HRSA Huddles: Improving Collaboration & Engagement

Collaboration and engagement are essential to meeting HRSA’s goals and supporting a fulfilling work environment for HRSA employees. However, increased reliance on telework, frequent physical moves, communication dependence through email and social media, and changing jobs have led to a critical challenge: HRSA employees’ perception of connection, communication and engagement varies greatly across the agency. This team proposes to test Team Huddles, a successful private sector strategy, as a communication and engagement improvement tool to help teams work more collectively, effectively, and efficiently. The Team:

  • Sabrina Matoff-Stepp (Project Lead), HRSA/Office of Women’s Health
  • Bethany Applebaum, HRSA/Office of Women’s Health
  • Patrick Lockett, HRSA/Office of Management
  • John White, HRSA/Bureau of Health Workforce
  • Ted Eytan, Clinician, Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Marcia Brand, Deputy Administrator, Health Resource Services Administration


LabGenius: The Smarter Notebook for Scientists

Handwriting is the most efficient documentation interface for NIH scientists who are juggling multiple tasks and may also be encumbered by protective equipment. With that said, transcribing and archiving and later searching these handwritten notes are time-consuming and error-prone tasks. This team proposes to test the implementation of an electronic lab notebook with all the benefits of paper. With a “smart” pen, data recorded on paper (in ink) is also instantly digitized and securely transmitted to web-based software, where it is easily organized, annotated, searched, shared and archived. The Team:

  • John Didion (Project Lead), NIH/NHGRI
  • Michael Erdos, NIH/NHGRI
  • Anthony Kirilusha, NIH/NHGRI
  • Dylan McDiarmid, NIH/NHGRI (Contractor)
  • Michael Binder, NIH/NHGRI (Contractor)

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Francis Collins, Primary Investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute & Director of the National Institutes of Health


SAMHSA Training Advisor

To address the problem of poor trainings being offered to federal staff, this team proposes a web platform that would allow staff to read reviews from others who have completed training and help them select training that’s right for them. If fully developed, this tool would provide summary reports to leadership on how training funds were spent, the trainings’ impacts on workforce development, and other information to ensure effective use of workforce training resources. The Team:

  • Stephanie Zidek-Chandler (Project Lead), SAMHSA/CSAP
  • Mike Etzinger, SAMHSA/OMTO
  • Michael Inguillo, SAMHSA/OMTO

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Clarese Holden, Acting Division Director, Division of State Programs, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, SAMHSA


Simplify Funding Opportunity Announcements

Publishing grant opportunities is complex and the requirements for what should be in a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) are numerous. This often creates a paradox in which the communities that have the greatest need for grant funding have the least capacity to access that funding. This Ignite project would develop a simplified FOA with streamlined language, fewer requirements, and a simpler interface. The desired impact would be to make grant funding more accessible to the communities for whom it is intended. The Team:

  • David Berlin (Project Lead), ACF/ANA
  • Michelle Sauve, ACF/ANA (Contractor)
  • Brent Huggins, ACF/ANA (Contractor)

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Camille Loya, Acting Director of the Division of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Administration for Native Americans, Administration for Children & Families


Technology Transfer Invention Portal

Many inventions come from within the walls of HHS from public research dollars. It’s the job of Technology Transfer offices to get this invention beyond the walls of government and into the hands of the private sector to grow and mature these inventions and to help spur economic growth and development. However, the process by which federal staff submit an invention is unnecessarily arduous and challenging. This team proposes to simplify and streamline the tech transfer process to help accelerate the adoption of these innovations by the private sector. The Team:

  • Juliana Cyril (Project Lead), Office of Technology and Innovation, CDC
  • Paco Candal, Office of Technology and Innovation, CDC
  • Sharon Soucek, Office of Technology and Innovation, CDC
  • Laura Prestia, Office of Technology Transfer, NIH
  • Ajoy Prabhu, Office of Technology Transfer, NIH

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Ron Otten, Acting Deputy Associate Director, Office of the Associate Director for Science, CDC


Two Clicks Away: Sharing Successful Strategies

The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) provides grants to tribal communities across the country. And while there a plethora of information has been collected over the years on what the grantees’ have done and how those projects have performed, this information is hidden behind hard to access internal databases. This team proposes to build an online, searchable database to communicate ANA funded projects in hopes of better facilitating promising practices back to their grantee community. The Team:

  • Megan Kauffmann (Project Lead), ACF/ANA
  • Brent Huggins, ACF/ANA (Contractor)
  • Abigail Kardel, ACF/ANA (Contractor)
  • Joshuah Marshall, ACF/ANA (Contractor)

Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor:

  • Camille Loya, Acting Director of the Division of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Administration for Native Americans, ACF

  Ignite is our internal accelerator for Department staff who want to test out new ways of improve the way their office, agency, and indeed the entire Department operates. Learn more about the HHS Ignite Accelerator here.