ONC Awards $300K in Funding to 6 Digital Health Pilot Projects!


The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the six winners of the inaugural ONC Market R&D Pilot Challenge. The six winners will live-test new health information technology (health IT) applications in health care settings administered by their challenge partners.

The winning innovator-health care organization teams will each receive $50,000 to fund their pilot programs which will become operational in August are:

    • ClinicalBox and Lowell General Hospital
    • CreateIT Healthcare Solutions and MHP Salud
    • Gecko Health Innovations and Boston Children’s Hospital
    • Optima Integrated Health and University of California, San Francisco, Cardiology Division
    • physIQ and Henry Ford Health System
    • Vital Care Telehealth Services and Dominican Sisters Family Health Service

The ONC Market R&D Challenge launched on October 20, 2014 with the goal of finding early stage health care startups from across the country and connecting them with health care organizations and stakeholders with whom they could potentially run a pilot program to test the application.

Three in-person matchmaking events were held in January, 2015, focused on connecting health care organizations with innovator companies looking to pilot test their products. Almost 500 organizations expressed interest in finding partners through the matchmaking program. More than 300 in-person meetings were held in New York, New York; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C., with many more conducted virtually. These “speed-dating” events allowed startups to meet face-to-face with health care organizations to identify common interests and goals. ONC and the organizer of these meetings, Health 2.0, intended for the events to have additional benefits, including facilitating the exchange of ideas that might lead to new partnerships and relationships.

To be eligible to serve as a host, organizations were required to operate in clinical, public health and community, or consumer health environments while also serving enough consumers or patients to conduct a pilot study. The innovators had to be an early-stage health information technology company with less than $10 million in venture capital funding and a readily available technology solution.

Applications were received from 78 host-innovator teams from across the nation. The proposed pilot projects were required to focus on at least one of several ONC priority areas, of which the most common selected were care coordination, patient generated health data, medication management, and underserved communities.

“It’s not news to anyone that healthcare is risk averse and notoriously unwelcoming of change and yet startups face the steep barrier of having to prove themselves even before they are fully out the gate,” observes Indu Subaiya, CEO of Health 2.0. “Pilot programs like this are pushing the needle forward for health care technology by connecting innovators and hosts, mitigating risk and allowing health technology companies an opportunity to validate their technology’s impact.”

A review panel of subject-matter experts from across ONC and the health IT industry reviewed each submission. The proposals were evaluated on the pilot proposal and design, budget and scale, potential for health impact, relevance to ONC priorities, potential of the innovator’s product, team experience and strength of match, and the proposed public deliverable.

About the Winners

ClinicalBox and Lowell General Hospital. ClinicalBox develops software for coordination and patient engagement across the surgical care continuum. Their technology, CoordinationBox, tracks patients through the care delivery pipeline and visualizes critical tasks that need to be completed for the health care provider. It facilitates communication with the patient and provides them with a visual overview of the stages in their episode of care, as well as task lists and educational materials. The pilot with Lowell General Hospital will test CoordinationBox’s efficacy in coordinating care and engaging patients during surgical episodes.

CreateIT Healthcare Solutions and MHP Salud. CreateIT Healthcare Solutions’ MyCare Communicator is a patient engagement platform used to engage a culturally, economically, and technologically diverse patient population. The platform allows healthcare providers to deliver education materials and clinically relevant messages to patients in their native language via email, SMS, and automated voice. MHP Salud will pilot the MyCare Communicator in the Texas Rio Grande Valley to enhance the impact of its Community Health Worker programming in the areas of diabetes prevention and breastfeeding.

Gecko Health Innovations and Boston Children’s Hospital. Gecko Health Innovations’ CareTRx uses medication sensors, mobile apps, and cloud computing to improve respiratory disease management and provide relief for asthma patients. The technology records medication use, sends reminders, tracks symptoms, and shares reports with care coordinators. In partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, the pilot will evaluate the effectiveness of CareTRx on asthma self-management among urban school children compared to traditional self-management practices.

Optima Integrated Health and University of California, San Francisco, Cardiology Division. Optima-for-Blood Pressure (Optima4BP) is a cloud-based artificial intelligence solution that evaluates hypertensive patients’ real-time status in order to provide personalized decision recommendations for medication treatment changes. Optima4BP analyzes a variety of data to calculate the percentage improvement of potential treatment changes over the current treatment. Hosted by UCSF’s Cardiology Division and integrating with its EMR, the pilot will evaluate the efficacy of Optima4BP in improving care coordination for patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

physIQ and Henry Ford Health System. physIQ has developed an analytics platform that transforms sensor-generated biodata into clinically meaningful and personalized physiological insight. The solution couples machine learning physiology analytics with disposable wearables that capture and transmit bio-signal data in order to reduce hospital readmissions associated with exacerbations of chronic conditions. The pilot with Henry Ford Health System will evaluate physIQ’s platform’s ability to reduce hospital readmissions for heart failure and/or COPD patients and quantify changes in outcomes, operational efficiency and ROI for the care delivery organization.

Vital Care Telehealth Services and Dominican Sisters Family Health Service.The Senior Total population Assisted Telehealth Services (STATS) program, created by Vital Care Telehealth Services, connects populations of seniors at the community level to preventative care and chronic disease management programs. The pilot project will test STATS efficacy in increasing access to primary and secondary prevention services on the Shinnecock Indian Health Services Clinic located on the reservation on eastern Long Island.

Adam Wong is the Management and Program Analyst at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)


1 reply »

  1. Meaningful waste of money. Go after safety and adverse events, empowering pts and docs to report.