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Contests to search for solutions to health IT challenges

The ONC hopes to identify trends that can be used in advisory and policymaking activities.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted July 6, 2011

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will hold several contests for the best ideas to help it solve the challenges associated with health information technology.

Investing in Innovations, or i2 Initiative, is part of the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was signed by President Obama in January (link).

The contest will be run by the Capital Consulting Corp. and Health 2.0, which were awarded $5 million to fund innovative projects and create challenges for prize money. More than $1.9 million of the $5 million is available for prizes in up to 30 challenges organized by the ONC and other Dept. of Health and Human Services agencies. The challenges are being developed, and details on how to enter have not been released.

Some examples of the challenges that will be introduced are :

  • Applications that allow people to securely store and share health information with members of their social network.
  • Applications that provide patients, caregivers and physicians with rigorous and relevant information that can generate immediate decisions.
  • Applications that allow people to connect during natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • Tools that facilitate the exchange of personal health information while allowing users to customize their privacy settings.

The ONC says another component of the i2 Initiative is to analyze health IT projects considered innovative and their connection to other communities displaying innovative ideas. These ideas will be evaluated to identify technology trends that can be used in future advisory and policymaking activities.

"The initiative demonstrates ONC's recognition of the importance of investing in innovations and provides a platform that will attract an expanded community of innovators to the full range of the agency's programs," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology. "It opens the door to new opportunities for open collaboration from a wide range of diverse individuals and organizations that will increase the national rate of innovation and adoption of health IT as we improve health care of all Americans."

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