Giving individuals control to share their health data is one of the biggest challenges in healthcare. “Individual control of personal health data will ‘tear down the wall’ that’s blocking health care transformation,” according to Sumit Nagpal, CEO of LumiraDx. He says that if patients controlled their data, many of the proposed barriers to interoperability would dissolve.
Move Health Data Forward Challenge by ONC
Giving individuals the ability to securely share their health data is the newest developer challenge put forth by the ONC, the Office of the National Coordinator, announced on HealthIT.Gov.
I had an opportunity to speak with Caroline Coy, who works at the ONC in the Office of Standards and Technology, about the challenge, “We fund a lot of work supporting the development of new technology and standards related to healthcare. Right now, I am supporting the Move Health Data Forward Challenge that is focused on enabling individuals to securely authorize the movement of their health data to destinations that they choose.”
What solution does ONC want built for the Move Health Data Forward Challenge?
Caroline says ONC is looking to incentivize participants to create an API solution to help individuals authorize the movement of their health data, “We are looking for participants to build a new API based on the implementation specifications of the HEART Working Group.”
The HEART Working Group, HEART WG, is a group of public and private individuals from the health IT community that have come together to work on the challenges related to consumer authorization of health information. Coy says that on the HEART WG website there is a list of standards that developers can utilize to create the API.
The HEART Working Group intends to harmonize and develop a set of privacy and security specifications that enable an individual to control the authorization of access to RESTful health-related data sharing APIs, and to facilitate the development of interoperable implementations of these specifications by others
Caroline says, “As health IT continues to grow, and mobile health technology is becoming more accessible, we want to ensure that consumers are playing an even greater role in how and when their information is exchanged and shared. We know that there are gaps in health information exchange that affect consumers and their ability to share their health information with people who need it – such as healthcare providers, family members, and caregivers.”
“Unleashing consumer data is one of the top priorities here at ONC, and we’ve outlined it in our shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, and that really aims to improve the individual’s ability to send, receive, find, and use their health information,” she states.
Move Health Data Forward Webinar
On June 7, 3 to 4 pm ET, the ONC will host a webinar on the challenge to provide interested developers and teams more information. “The webinar will provide a summary of the challenge, and also give participants an opportunity to ask questions, and we will answer them,” says Coy.
Coy took the opportunity to answer some of my questions. As a consumer-facing application, the challenge might benefit from a developer view from outside of healthcare in combination with the expertise and resources of a healthcare organization.
Why is the ONC hosting prize challenges instead of hiring for solutions to these challenges?
Caroline: There is something called the America COMPETES Act. It is the authority that enables ONC to invest in innovation through prize competitions that incentivize research and development. We see challenges as a way for ONC to quickly draw on external talent and ideas to solve critical problems. We are not limiting it to people with healthcare experience, so we are looking across different industries and sectors to get the best talent to solve some of the issues that we face.
What does a programmer outside of healthcare need to know about the challenge?
Caroline: We definitely welcome applications from programmers working both inside and outside of healthcare. We’re looking forward to seeing some new approaches on how to enable individuals to securely authorize the movement of their health data to destinations they choose. I think something that would be interesting for a programmer outside of healthcare is that we do require participants in the challenge to engage individuals.
Challenge participants are expected to recruit individuals to test implementation of the solution that they create. They also need to enable processes that require individuals to authorize the release of their health data to a destination they choose – which may be a little different than other industries because we’re dealing with healthcare data.
How can a developer outside of healthcare connect with resources in healthcare?
Caroline: That is why we have the multi-phased approach, to really allow ample time for teams to develop. We are interested in having teams come together – a solution and programmers coming together with some sort of healthcare organization, a hospital for example. We want them to do this in the real world, so they have access to data and are aware of the processes that need to be in place for that data.
For Phase 1, the proposal phase, we would like to see the teams outlined in that proposal period. We would like to have a description in the application of who is on the team supporting the application to the challenge. The actual implementation will start in the next phase. It does makes sense for applications to come in with teams already formed.
Will ONC provide developers access to healthcare organizations interested in partnering for the challenge?
Caroline: ONC is considering creating a list of healthcare organizations already willing to partner with developers. They have done it in the past for other challenges. Another way is to utilize the discussion forum on the Challenge.gov site for the Move Health Data Forward Challenge. We’ve seen that in other government challenges; people post their interest in partnering, and a little bit of background and information for people to reach out.
We’re really excited about this. We look forward to seeing the different applications that come in, and excited to hit the ground running with the teams that are selected to support them throughout the development and prototyping process.
Important Dates for the Move Health Data Forward Challenge
Phase 1 – Proposals: Applications must be submitted by September 8, 2016.
Phase 2 – Prototype & Pilot: Submission deadline is January 16, 2017.
Phase 3 – Scale & Implement: Submission deadline is May 1, 2017.
More specific details and information here.
According to Challenge.gov, the challenge will have three phases and two finalists each winning $75,000. Phase 1 will award $5,000 for up 10 finalists each based on the proposals they submit to the challenge. Phase 1 winners will move to Phase 2, which will award $20,000 for up to 5 finalists each based on the prototype of their solution. Phase 2 winners will move to Phase 3, which will award $50,000 for up to two winners each based on the participant’s ability to implement their solution.
For more information on the challenge, see the Move Health Data Forward Challenge page, and also register on Challenge.gov where you can keep abreast on many challenges,
All ONC challenges, and all challenges governmentwide, are posted on the Challenge.gov site. It’s a one-stop shop for programmers to look at all the different opportunities that are available. – Caroline Coy
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