HHS tech challenge leveraged AI to create digital solutions

A sprint technology challenge spearheaded by HHS to create new data-driven digital tools that benefit the public has been completed, the agency announced.

The 14-week tech challenge, The Opportunity Project (TOP) Health, involved 11 participating teams that leveraged federal data and AI technologies to develop digital tools to improve clinical trials, experimental therapies and data-driven solutions for complex challenges such as cancer and Lyme disease. The HHS Office of the Chief Technology Office and President Innovation Fellows conducted the first ever challenge.

“At HHS, we recognize that Federal government alone cannot solve our most important and complex challenges,” Ed Simcox, HHS chief technology officer, said in a statement. “The TOP Health sprint is a valuable step in leveraging skills from industry with public resources to promote better health outcomes.”

The participating teams were given access to curated datasets from HHS and took aim at one of two challenges in the tech sprint:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for approaches for facilitating an experimental therapy ecosystem.
  2. Harness the power of collaboration, citizen science, and data for Lyme disease.

Upon completion of the challenge last week, the international teams unveiled their digital tools, which will be sustained by the industry and non-profit organization sponsors.

Here are the digital tools that emerged from the project:

  • Philips Research in the Netherlands created the Trial Explorer, which finds the most suitable trials for patients.
  • Microsoft Healthcare in Israel created the Microsoft Healthcare Bot, which uses conversational AI, advanced machine reading and natural language processing to help patients and doctors find suitable clinical trials more efficiently.
  • A team with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is planning to build a large knowledge graph representation for cancer clinical trials that will enable the discovery of new concepts from unstructured text.
  • The Oracle TOP Health Team in Washington DC created a tool that uses AI to match patients battling cancer with clinical trial programs.
  • TrialX in New York developed iConnect, a patient recruitment tool that connects patients and clinical researchers using advanced semantic and decision engine based AI techniques.
  • A team with Flatiron Health in New York developed a framework that improves patient trial matching and gives oncology practices and their patients access to new treatments.
  • A team with AheadIntoFun in Chicago developed a platform for finding and sharing clinical trials.
  • A team with TrialX and the Global Lyme Alliance in New York developed The Lyme Tracker App, which allows users to track symptoms to better understand the disease and how it progresses.
  • The LivLyme Foundation created the TickTracker app, which lets users track and report ticks in real-time.
  • Another team with the LivLyme Foundation created the TickTockBOOM app—a game-based app created by 11-year-old twins that aims to teach users about tick awareness and prevention.
  • A team with the California Center for Functional Medicine developed the Clyme Health app, which optimizes data gathering and visualization for patients with complex, chronic conditions to help care providers and researchers better measure the efficacy of treatments and identify data-driven solutions with personalized medicine.

The teams plan to present their tools during a future showcase in Washington D.C., pending the government shutdown.