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ONC Announces Provider EHR Use Experience Challenge Winners

Contest winners acknowledged for innovative health data exchange applications designed to ease EHR interoperability and improve patient care.

By Kate Monica

- A recent challenge for health technology organizations to create innovative tools to improve provider EHR use yielded several new applications aimed at improving accessible health data exchange.

ONC challenged health technology organizations to create applications designed to improve EHR use

On Thursday, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced the Phase 2 winners of two challenges focused on promoting use of the health IT standard and application programming interface, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR).

Herald Health won the first place prize and $50,000 in the Phase 2 Provider Use Experience Challenge with its app designed to manage alerts and information through customizable push notifications tailored to individual patients. These notifications can also be exported to other users.

ONC designed Provider Use Experience Challenge to encourage innovators to find ways to make data accessible for provider EHR users and make the latter’s workflows more efficient and adaptable.

All challenge submissions were instructed to use FHIR and open APIs to design their solutions.

Over the past year, ONC has worked to promote FHIR as a key asset in the effort toward advancing healthcare interoperability, most recently via its live demonstration of consumer applications capable of importing data from health IT systems using a particular set of technical specifications and API.

Behind Herald Health, the second-place winner — University of Utah Health Care, Intermountain Healthcare, and Duke Health — earned $25,000 for a clinical support tool with the ability to provide recommendations for the treatment of babies with jaundice at birth judging by the level of liver waste products found in their blood. This support tool was a collaborative effort among the three organizations.

PHRASE Health also received an honorable mention for its clinical decision support application designed to help clinicians align with priorities such as public health alerts. 

The Provider Use Experience Challenge is another example of the healthcare industry’s effort toward improving upon already rapidly developing health IT infrastructure including EHR adoption and implementation.

The ONC also announced the winners the Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge prompting submitters to consider a means to easily access electronic health data from different health care providers.

PatientLink Enterprise won first place with MyLinks, a cloud-based application facilitating health data exchange using FHIR and Direct messaging. Patients can use the app to gather, manage, and share patient data as well as participate in research and monitoring from remote devices.

The runners-up in the Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge included Green Circle Health and 1upHealth. Green Circle Health used FHIR to import patient data to a platform displaying a complete family health dashboard for personal and medical device data, remote monitoring, and reminders. 1upHealth came in as Honorable Mention with their innovative effort toward interoperability through helping patients organize and share data across incompatible systems.

“We are thrilled to recognize new tools that make it easier for individuals and clinicians to access health information and put it to use,” said National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD,MHCM . “These apps reflect the incredible progress that is possible as a result of the digital health infrastructure that the public and private sector have built together over the last eight years.”

This challenge follows a series of ONC initiatives to mark health information exchange and interoperability as industry-wide priorities including the ONC Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and the ONC Health IT Certification Program. These technological advances toward more efficient health data exchange continue to spur forward motion toward true nationwide interoperability.

While Washington will step down from his post in the coming weeks, the federal agency shows no signs of stopping its work to improve provider health IT use through adoption of interoperable health IT standards.

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