ONC launches Pilot Program to Catalyze Health IT Innovation

Investments in digital health have never been higher, with reports indicating that $5 Billion has been invested in health tech startups in 2014. Encouraged by the increasingly favorable changes being made to health policy in the U.S., many entrepreneurs have answered the call to action to solve problems related to health care delivery and access, disease management, and cost reduction. Venture capitalists recognize the value of innovation in health care through technology yet few of these tools have gained widespread adoption. Health care organizations and providers are wary of implementing new technologies that haven’t been tested for fear of disrupting their workflows and causing more problems than before.

Market R&D Pilot Challenge Website

Recognizing these high barriers to entry for digital health startups the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is hosting the Market R&D Pilot Challenge to bridge the gap between health care providers and innovators. This competition, which is administered by Health 2.0, may award pilot proposals in four different domains: clinical environments (e.g., hospitals, ambulatory care, surgical centers), public health and community environments (e.g.,  public health departments, community health workers, mobile medical trucks, and school-based clinics), consumer health (e.g., self-insured employers, pharmacies, laboratories) and research and data (e.g, novel ways of collecting data from patients).

How it works:

  1. Interested teams can attend an informational webinar to learn more about the challenge and requirements.
  2. Facilitated matchmaking sessions will be held nationwide in December 2014. These “speed-dating” events are opportunities for startups to meet with health care organizations and try to identify a beneficial scenario for both parties to run a pilot.
  3. Hosts and innovators complete a joint proposal for a pilot project by January 23, 2015.
  4. Up to Six winners will be awarded and move on to implement their pilot

Interested companies do not need to rely on matchmaking events to find a host organization and are encouraged to foster connections and apply with health care organizations outside of these events. Up to six $50,000 prizes will be awarded to teams to implement their pilot projects.

Sounds interesting? The challenge is open to those ‘hosts’ and ‘innovators’ who meet the following criteria:


  • Health care organization
  • No fewer than 150 patients served (if provider)
  • Have time/resources to devote to pilot project
  • Designate an business-oriented mentor to see pilot through from start to finish


  • Early-stage health technology company
  • Maximum of 50 employees
  • Have an easily testable tech-based health care product
  • Be financially stable, have managerial capacity, availability
  • Raised less than $10M in VC funding

Visit the ONC Market R&D Pilot Challenge Website for challenge details and upcoming events!