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AHA Contest Seeks Health Systems' Innovative Solutions to Social Determinants of Health

By Mandy Roth  
   February 15, 2019

Prizes will be awarded for sustainable, scalable solutions with the potential to transform communities. 

Many organizations are talking about addressing social determinants of health. The American Hospital Association (AHA) is putting money behind it to inspire development of innovative solutions from health systems to transform community health for vulnerable populations. 

The AHA 2019 Innovation Challenge, sponsored by First American Healthcare Finance, seeks proposals for sustainable and scalable solutions that employ technology to combat social determinants of health. The top three proposals will be awarded $100,000, $25,000, and $15,000 to further develop the idea. The contest is open to AHA members and partners; proposals are due by May 24.

“Today’s hospitals and health systems are dedicated to transforming their communities into healthy living environments where all people can their reach highest potential for health,” said Jay Bhatt, AHA senior vice president and chief medical officer in a news release. “Through this year’s Innovation Challenge, our goal is [to] improve living conditions of our most vulnerable populations by pushing the boundaries of today’s and tomorrow’s technologies. It’s just one more way AHA is relentlessly pursuing innovations that advance and enhance the health of all people.”

According to the AHA, while 20% of a person's health and well-being are related to access to care and quality of services, 80% of health outcomes are tied to an individual's physical environment, social determinants, and behavioral factors. The competition is designed to address needs like homelessness, hunger, food insecurity, and lack of transportation to medical care.

Criteria for submissions includes:

  • A solution that targets, engages, and empowers a vulnerable population
  • A model designed to improve outcomes, enhance the healthcare experience, and lower the total cost of care
  • Ideas that incorporate technology into the solution and could be as simple as software, hardware, or a digital app
  • An approach that fits into, improves, or complements current approaches to care
  • Development of supportive partnerships with community organizations
  • A description of how the hospital will support the model or idea

This is the second year of the contest. Winners from 2018 included:

  • First prize was awarded to Parkview Health based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for development of a solution that combined peer coaching, primary navigators, and a mobile app, providing opioid use disorder patients on-demand support for addiction recovery.
  • University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia received the second-place prize for “Heart Safe Motherhood,” a patient-centered approach that leveraged technology and redefined the role of obstetrical providers to drive better outcomes for women with pregnancy-related and chronic hypertension in the immediate post-partum period.
  • West Tennessee Healthcare in Jackson, Tennessee, was selected for the third prize, along with its affiliate, Pathways Behavioral Health Services, for a collaborative solution that addressed mental health, substance abuse, and the criminal justice system and targeted a vulnerable population

2019 award recipients will be announced during the AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego, California, July 25‒27.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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