On Wednesday, December 14, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), in conjunction with the Partnership for Patients – an initiative of the Department of Health & Human Services – and with the support of Health 2.0, announced the winners of the “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home” innovation challenge.  Three teams were named winners: Axial Exchange, iBlueButton, and VoIDSPAN.

The public challenge, which launched in September 2011 under the ONC Investing in Innovation (i2) program, called for innovative approaches to improving patient safety and facilitating care transitions for patients being discharged from hospitals to their next care setting, including their home, nursing home, or hospice.  Statistically, nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days, a large proportion of which could be prevented by improving communications and coordination of care before and after that transition.  

Research has shown that empowering patients and caregivers with information and tools to manage the next steps in their care more confidently is an effective way to reduce errors and complications and, in turn, prevent readmissions.  In addition to incorporating other data sources and available services, solutions were expected to make use of the discharge checklist made available by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Axial Exchange, iBlueButton, and VoIDSPAN were rated the top three submitted solutions by a technical review panel of subject matter experts.  They will be awarded prizes of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000, respectively; the winning teams will be demoing their solutions at the CMS QualityNet Conference, which runs from Tuesday, December 13 through Thursday, December 15.

The Axial Care Transition Suite, the first place winner – submitted by Matt Mattox and Joanne Rohde of Axial Exchange – is a web-based application that enables information to flow to a patient’s next care setting so that providers have what they need, when they need it, and to engage patients with the information and tools needed to improve their health knowledge and enhance their ownership of after-care responsibilities.  It bridges care-transition gaps across the entire care delivery chain, from first-responders and hospitals on through to providers and patients at the time of discharge.

The iBlueButton application, the second place winner – submitted by Bettina Experton, Chris Burrow, Randy Ullrich, Philippe Faurie, and Nina Hein of Humetrix – provides patients and caregivers with immediate access to critical personal health information at home and at the point of care.  It is an intuitive mobile app (for mobile phones and tablet computers) that offers automated and secure access, anywhere and anytime, to online health records, D/C instructions, and additional resources; it also allows patients to easily “push” records from their device to their provider’s. 

VoIDSPAN, the third place winner – submitted by Andreas Kogelnik and Kenneth Ng of Flexis – integrates voice, SMS, and web technologies into a mobile application designed to help target patients with a high risk of relapse and engage them in their care together with providers, case managers, and caretakers.  VoIDSPAN uses structured inpatient and outpatient data and data from local EMRs and health information exchanges, and integrates with other available community resources.

Visit Challenge.gov for additional details on the “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home” challenge.