MyHealthDIRECT Wins i2 Discharge Follow-Up Appointment Challenge

At the Health Data Initiative (HDI) Forum III this past Tuesday, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, announced the winners of the Investing in Innovation initiative’s (i2) Discharge Follow-Up Appointment Challenge. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) i2 initiative utilizes prizes and challenges to facilitate innovation and obtain solutions to intractable health IT problems. Aligned with the Obama administration’s innovation agenda, it is the first federal program to operate under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act.

The Challenge – which launched on January 26, 2023 – was the second in a series of Challenges calling attention to achieving better care and health at lower costs in the care transitions process. Nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within thirty days. A large proportion of readmissions can be prevented by improving communication and care coordination before and after the point of discharge. The first Challenge, Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home , asked software developers to create applications that improve care transitions by generating intuitive and easy-to-use tools that empower patients and caregivers in ways that fit with existing means of provider communication.

Building on the themes of the Ensuring Safe Transitions Challenge, the Discharge Challenge tasked teams with creating web-based tools that make post-discharge follow-up appointment scheduling a more shared and effective process for caregivers, providers and patients. Developers were instructed to create with an eye towards adoption at the community level, as delineated by the Challenge Description and as emphasized in the prize structure. It was suggested that applications include easy-to-navigate user interfaces, simple processes for downstream acceptance of providers, information for caregiver and patient convenience and preference, critical background information for downstream providers, messaging capabilities to minimize no-shows and cancellations, and EHR interface capabilities.

“While the Ensuring Safe Transitions Challenge highlighted the general importance of innovation in care transitions, the Discharge Challenge honed in a particular component of the space – post-discharge follow-up appointment scheduling” said Wil Yu, Special Assistant for Innovations at ONC. He continued, “this Challenge is a significant milestone not only in terms of discoverable content, but also in terms of the potential for impact.  This is the first i2 Challenge in which we offered a pilot opportunity.  The involvement of the Beacon Communities will go a long way in helping to realize the possibilities that Challenges create.”

The three winning teams – from first to third place – are MyHealthDIRECT, HePak and mHealthCoach. The winner, MyHealthDIRECT will be awarded $5,000 cash and a pilot opportunity. The second and third place teams, HePak and mHealthCoach, will be awarded showcase and learning sessions with innovative communities. Many congratulations to the winners. Brief summaries of the winning applications follow:

MyHealthDIRECT – submitted by Jay Mason and Tom Reilly – MyHealthDIRECT is a web-based solution that effectively matches the demand for health care appointments with a supply of actual appointment slots. The solution subsequently enables discharge planners to search through their provider networks for appointments on behalf of their patients and actually book and confirm those appointments. Appointment reminders come in the form of e-mail and text and the system is highly scalable, available, configurable and modifiable.

HePak – submitted by Luisette Figueroa – Health Pass Key (HePak) brings access to its information through three secure portals, all of which are designed to offer entity-specific features.  The three designated entities are hospitals, providers and patients.  The system, which contains HIE functionality, tracks appointments, admissions, transfers and discharges. Portal functionality provides structured support to self-care by managing appointments, managing demographic/clinical information, learning about clinical procedures and receiving appointment reminders and updates via e-mail and text messages.

mHealthCoach – submitted by Aamer Ghaffar – the mHealthCoach Care Transition Kit seeks to reduce hospital readmission rates for congestive heart failure patients using a patient centric approach.  The key modules include a hospital discharge tablet, real-time updates with secure messaging, multiple calendar syncing, educational content and medication literacy. The machine learning system attempts to keep all stake holders in sync.  The tool’s intuitive search incorporates twelve HHS data feeds making relevant information retrievable when necessary.

To learn more about the Discharge Follow-Up Appointment Challenge, visit the Challenge’s website.