Keeping Health Data in Context: HHS Names Winners of 'Provenance' Challenge

Steven Porter, March 13, 2018

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced two winners Tuesday for a prize competition designed to improve electronic health record technology.

The healthcare industry is awash in data these days, but it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what the data mean.

Providers need to have confidence in both the integrity and authenticity of the health data they use. That means knowing who created the original, when and where it was created, what changes have been made over time, and why the changes were made—which is precisely the idea behind a prize competition titled "Oh, the Places Data Goes: Health Data Provenance Challenge."

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The Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced two winners Tuesday for the second phase of the challenge: 1upHealth and RAIN Live Oak Technology.

The 1upHealth team—which includes co-founder and CEO Ricky Sahu and co-founder Gajen Sunthara, director of innovation research and development at Boston Children's Hospital—used Health Level Seven’s (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard and other improvements based on blockchain technology to help providers pull aggregated data from a variety of sources and to push provenance information to the surface, according to the HHS ONC announcement.

Fellow winner RAIN Live Oak built a software toolkit that works with existing processes and requirements to bring provenence information into health information systems' data-flow, the announcement said.

The two second-phase winners were selected from among the prototypes built by four first-phase winners, who were selected based on their white paper proposals. The four finalists win up to $180,000 combined.

Don Rucker, MD, national coordinator for HHS ONC, said these projects are designed to meet a technological need that supports the government's goals.

“Ensuring provenance of data is an important step in achieving interoperability of health information,” Rucker said in the statement. “We look forward to seeing these winning submissions being implemented in electronic products that will allow for the secure, trustworthy, and reliable exchange of health information.”

Last week, HHS Secretary Alex Azar touted interoperability and accessibility of patient health data as among the Trump administration's four key healthcare goals, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma followed suit, unveiling two initiatives to improve patient access and control over their personal electronic medical records.

Steven Porter

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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