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HHS launches health IT challenge to improve care transitions for hospital-discharge patients.

Article / Review by on January 26, 2012 – 8:08 pmNo Comments

HHS launches health IT challenge to improve care transitions for hospital-discharge patients.

The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology today announced a Discharge Follow-Up Appointment care transitions challenge – the second as part of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Investing in Innovation (i2) Initiative.  With the support of Health 2.0 and Partnership for Patients, ONC launched the Discharge Follow-Up Appointment challenge in support of ONC’s Investing in Innovation (i2) program.

The i2 Initiative is a bold new effort to spur innovations in health IT.  The program utilizes prizes and challenges to facilitate innovation and obtain solutions to intractable health IT problems.  Aligned with the Obama administration’s innovation agenda, i2 is the first federal program to operate under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

Today’s challenge aims to stimulate the use of simple, information technology-enabled processes and tools to make transitions easier and safer for patients, caregivers and providers, particularly when a patient is discharged from a hospital.  The first health IT challenge, Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home , called upon developers to create a web-based application that could empower patients and caregivers to better navigate and manage a transition from a hospital.

This latest challenge was announced during today’s Care Innovations Summit. The Summit is co-hosted by the ONC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the West Wireless Health Institute and Health Affairs to call attention to importance of care transitions and address the gaps in care coordination with a focus on better care and better health at a lower cost.

The scheduling of follow-up appointments and post-discharge testing before leaving the hospital helps ensure safer and more effective transitions.  Unfortunately, most patients across the country continue to leave the hospital without confirmed appointments and many providers remain frustrated by a highly manual and unreliable system.  The Discharge Follow-Up Appointment challenge will focus on promoting effective care transitions.

“This challenge is an enormous opportunity for software developers to develop solutions, and pursue models that can be adopted across a community,” said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., national coordinator for health information technology.  “Scheduling post-discharge follow-up appointments is critical, but not easy for patients or providers and we’re excited by the possibilities that will stem from this challenge.”

For additional information about ONC or on the i2 program, visit For more information about Health 2.0, which helps support the i2 challenge program, visit For more information about Partnership for Patients, which also supports the i2 challenge program, visit For more information about U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Recovery Act programs, see ### Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge Challenge Background

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in collaboration with the Partnership for Patients, seeks to stimulate innovative approaches to care transitions and improving patient safety by launching the ”Ensuring Safer Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge.” The Partnership for Patients is a new nationwide public-private partnership launched by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to tackle all forms of harm to patients. Its aims include a 20% reduction in readmissions over a three year period and a 40% reduction in preventable hospital acquired conditions.

Nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days. A large proportion of readmissions can be prevented by improving communications and coordinating care before and after discharge. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides a discharge checklist to help patients and their caregivers prepare to leave a hospital, nursing home, or other care setting. Research has shown that empowering patients and caregivers with information and tools to manage the next steps in their care more confidently is a very effective way to reduce errors, decrease complications, and prevent a return visit to the hospital.

Challenge Description

ONC is challenging software developers to improve care transitions and build upon these tools by generating an intuitive and easy-to-use application to empower patients and caregivers that fits into existing ways that providers communicate. The ideal application will:

  1. Incorporate the content of the CMS Discharge Checklist
  2. Help patients and caregivers access the information and materials needed to answer the checklist’s questions about their condition, their medications and medical equipment, and their post-discharge plans
  3. Share this information with doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals in their next care setting (e.g., home, nursing home, hospice)
  4. Identify community-based organizations or others who can provide valuable assistance
  5. Leverage and extend NwHIN standards and services including, but not limited to, transport (Direct, web services), content (Transitions of Care, CCD/CCR), and standardized vocabularies


* The above information is adapted from materials provided by USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

** More information at USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) HHS

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