HHS Unveils LEAP in Health IT Awardees Centered on Health Equity

Oct. 3, 2022
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced on Oct. 3 its two awards, totaling $2 million, under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects in Health Information Technology

On Oct. 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced via a press release two awards totaling $2 million under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects in Health Information Technology (LEAP in Health IT) funding opportunity. The awardees aim to design methods and tools to improve care delivery, advance research, and address challenges that prevent the advancement of interoperable health IT.

The release states that “The 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity, released in June 2022, sought applications for one of two areas of interest: (1) address health equity and social determinants of health (SDOH) through innovative, open-source technology tools, and electronic health records (EHRs); (2) demonstrate the use of equity-enhancing patient-generated health data (PGHD) for clinical care and research.”

The awardee for addressing health equity and SDOH is AllianceChicago. “AllianceChicago, a Health Center Controlled Network with decades of experience leading cutting edge health IT initiatives in the safety net setting, will partner with Heartland Alliance Health (a Community Health Center), Chicago House (a community-based Homeless Service organization), EMI Advisors and NORC at the University of Chicago to prototype a shared interoperable care plan,” the release comments. “The Aligning Housing and Healthcare project will leverage HL7 FHIR and the experience and capabilities of a strong partnership to enable service providers to break down barriers to integration and coordination of services to better address SDOH for individuals experiencing homelessness.”

The awardee for demonstrating the use of equity-enhancing PGHD for clinical care and research is MedStar Health Research Institute. The release adds that “MedStar Health Research Institute, whose Equity Engines project will develop the infrastructure and standards-based PGHD technologies needed to demonstrate the scalable use of equity enhancing PGHD for clinical care and research from the point-of-care to the researcher. Specifically, the project team will (1) perform an environmental scan to understand current standards and interoperability of PGHD related to the proposed PGHD technology solution; (2) develop the Equity Engine (PGHD technology solution) that collects and shares PGHD among patients, providers, and researchers around clinical care and research that require PGHD and incorporate the needs of underserved communities; (3) conduct two demonstration projects in at least two separate health care locations for at least two use cases, using the same underlying technology solution to demonstrate scalability; (4) evaluate operational utility of the novel solution to report the potential impact, opportunities, and challenges.”

Steve Posnack, deputy national coordinator for health information technology, was quoted in the release saying that “Our LEAP in Health IT awards are all about driving change and accelerating progress. I have no doubt that our 2022 awardees will continue this tradition and be laser focused on health equity enhancing solutions.”

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