Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About AHRQ's Digital Solutions to Support Care Transitions Challenge
Recently added questions and answers are marked with an asterisk *
- Does this challenge cover the transition from home to ambulatory settings?
The focus of this challenge is specifically hospital-to-home transitions for patients with multiple chronic conditions and the need for timely and accurate data and information transfer when someone is discharged from hospital to home. Normally, after hospital discharge there is followup in an ambulatory setting. Information normally needs to transfer not just from the hospital to the patient and primary care provider; for people with multiple chronic conditions, the full health care team—including specialists and social services—needs information. There are many components to post-hospital care, including office-based care providers, visiting nurses, physical therapy, meals-on-wheels. The challenge focus is how to make information flow so that people with multiple chronic conditions can get the care that they need once they’re discharged from the hospital.
- What are best practices for organizations that have invested heavily in EMRs/EHRs with suboptimal patient-facing portals or digital solutions?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Businesses and solvers find creative ways to meet demands and fill a gap in the market. User-centered design is an approach that begins with the end user in mind. Through active engagement with the intended users, innovators can design a product that fills the gap. This challenge is a potential funding source, and user-centered design practices would allow innovators to learn about needs and preferences for digital solutions.
- Can submissions come in from individuals and organizations?
Both are acceptable. Please check the website for the eligibility requirements covering both individuals and organizations. Because this is an America COMPETES Act Challenge, solvers are required to be a U.S. citizen or a U.S.-based entity. Please ensure that you comply with those requirements, whether you are submitting as an individual or an organization.
- Will there be two-way communication between the patient and the hospital?
The challenge does not require solvers to develop a solution that depends on two-way communication between patients and hospitals. Successful solutions will need to employ user-centered design and based on interactions with people who have multiple chronic conditions. Talking to intended end users and understanding their needs is how solvers will understand what end users would like to have in a solution.
- Does the challenge require solvers to create an app? If so, does that app need to be used by healthcare providers directly?
The challenge does not require solvers to create an app. The interactions that solutions require will depend on which aspect of the problem solvers would like to address. While solvers may submit a solution that focuses on the provider/app interaction, this is not a requirement of the challenge.
- Does the Phase 2 work plan need to focus on the architecture and coding language?
AHRQ expects more information about the solution architecture than the coding language. Remember that the submission is limited to 5 pages, excluding appendices, which could include architectural diagrams or system architectures. Coding language is not relevant unless it's demonstrating how that coding language molds well with FHIR and makes your solution open source and interoperable.
- Will AHRQ help solvers recruit patients with multiple chronic conditions to gather feedback for this challenge?
No. Challenge solvers will need to work with their own unique set of users to perform the user-centered design. The process of empathizing, defining the problem, ideating on solutions, and prototyping shall be done by the solver with individuals with multiple chronic conditions.
- Which FHIR specification standards are the most important to address?
Which FHIR standards a solver uses depends on the problem that the solution aims to address, how the solution addresses the problem, and what relevant information is being passed in an interoperable way. For a full list of FHIR resources please visit https://www.hl7.org/fhir/resourcelist.html.
- If a solver has funding from AHRQ to test our solution, i.e., R21, are they still eligible to apply?
AHRQ grantees may not use Federal funds from their grant to develop challenge applications. Please contact your project officer if you need additional information.
- Is AHRQ looking to be able to build a discharge plan using FHIR on the healthcare provider site?
No. AHRQ has not constrained the challenge to any particular use case, but instead seeks to spur innovation to address the transition from hospital to home for patients with multiple chronic conditions. The development of an interoperable discharge plan is one of many possible solutions to this challenge.
- How is the subspecialty care information available to patients who are frequently admitted?
The availability of specialty information is one of the problems for which this challenge seeks solutions. Often, individuals are discharged out of the hospital and do not receive clear instructions or care coordination services to help them with their other multiple chronic conditions. AHRQ is looking for solvers to leverage user-centered design with patients and families to understand what their needs are and create a solution to address the needs.
- How does AHRQ differentiate this challenge from the current funding opportunity announcement (PA2068), “Improving Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes During Care Transitions”?
This challenge is a short-term competition to spur innovative solution development. AHRQ’s grant funding is for academic research. Challenges are different from grants in that grants often prescribe which activities take place, whereas challenges work iteratively to convey a problem that needs to be solved and have solvers determine the best idea to test toward a solution.
- Is AHRQ interested in solutions that are not currently integrated with EHRs, if that work will be proposed in the Phase 2 work plan?
While the submission requirements for this challenge allows for the use of an existing solution as a part of a participant’s entry, the application must be innovative. Solvers will need to show they did not simply apply an existing solution without its modification, enhancement, or augmentation. The purpose of the challenge is to drive innovation, so there has to be an innovative offering in your submission for it to successfully compete.
- Does the challenge require discharge data to be stored within the hospital or will solvers need to create a new server to store the data?
The need for data storage will vary based on the solution you propose. Major considerations for the solution, however, are privacy and security. If you decide to create new servers for your solution, you will need to determine how you will ensure the privacy and security of patient data under applicable laws and regulations.
- Can you discuss the range of health literacy topics that solvers should address?
There is not a specific topic within health literacy that is required by this challenge. Each solution will need to consider the topics with the most relevance. AHRQ supports improving accessibility of health information for people with limited health literacy and seeks to address individuals’ ability to understand the health information that is shared with them by their healthcare team and use that information to make informed choices. There are many resources on the AHRQ website, including toolkits and implementation guides on how to improve health literacy, as well as the usability of health information by people with limited health literacy.
- What is meant by English language proficiency? Is this referring to having an option for different languages?
English language proficiency refers to how well someone can speak English or read, write, and communicate in English. In terms of health literacy and English language proficiency, there are two conceptual domains: using user-centered design and addressing the needs of people with (1) limited ability to speak English and, (2) a limited ability to understand health information. Ultimately the solution should have an easy-to-use interface so that people would be able to use without extensive training. The words that are presented by the solution to the end users should be appropriate to their health conditions and easy for them to understand.
- What should be the objective of the optional video submission?
The objective of the optional video solution is to showcase the solution, as well as the solver’s capacity to participate in the challenge.
- What is the Phase 1 and 2 money for?
This is prize money rather than a contract or grant for development of services.
- Where do I upload my submission?
Participants can submit their applications through this Web portal: https://bestincrowd.com/home/challenge-details/digital-solutions-to-support-care-transitions. If an application is submitted multiple times, AHRQ will review the application that was submitted at the latest time/date.
- Where do I submit budget information? Are there limits to the budget, such as indirect rates?
Challenges are different than grants and contracts. No budget needs to be submitted. There is a set prize award, but there are no restrictions on how the prize award is spent.
- Can an individual receive the prize money?
Yes, if they are a U.S. citizen or have permanent U.S. residency. It is important to note that there would be tax implications in receiving the prize.
- Can I compete in Phase 2 of the Challenges if I didn’t apply or win Phase 1?
No. The challenge is structured so that Phase 2 builds upon the success from Phase 1. Only Phase 1 semi-finalists may participate in Phase 2.
- Can I apply with an existing product?
While the submission requirements for this challenge allow for the use of an existing solution as a part of a participant’s entry, there still needs to be clear innovation. Solvers will need to show they did not simply apply an existing solution without its modification, enhancement, or augmentation. The purpose of the challenge is to drive innovation, so there has to be an innovative offering in your submission for it to successfully compete.
- I receive Federal grants or contracts. Can I still apply?
That depends. Federal grantees may not use Federal grant funds to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications. However, grantees may use their non–grant-funded time to develop a submission. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a COMPETES Act Challenge submission.
- How will prizes be awarded for Phase 1?
Following the Phase 1 close date, complete submissions will be reviewed according to the Phase 1 selection criteria by the challenge’s Expert Advisors. Based on advisor feedback, AHRQ management will choose the winning submissions that move on to Phase 2.
- Can I maximize my odds for winning a Phase 1 prize by providing multiple submissions?
Multiple submissions are allowed, but each one must be a unique approach that is sufficiently differentiated and in compliance with the challenge requirements. Only one prize may be awarded per team.
- Do I retain intellectual property ownership?
Each entrant retains title and full ownership in and to their submission. Entrants expressly reserve all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under the challenge agreement. By participating in the challenge, each entrant hereby irrevocably grants to AHRQ a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license and right to reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, and use the submission to the extent necessary to administer the challenge, and to publicly perform and publicly display the submission, including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes relating to the challenge.
- What potential benefits do I get from making a submission to one of the challenges?
In addition to the prize award for the winning applications, winning solvers get expert validation of their solution and benefit from promotion efforts which may expand their exposure to a wide audience of potential users.
- Can more than one person work on a submission and receive credit? And if the submission wins, will the prize money be split among the solvers?
Yes, more than one individual is permitted to complete a submission package during both phases of the challenge. Team members are solely responsible for allocating the value of services, awards, or prizes.
- Who can I contact if I have questions?
Please email email@example.com. In fairness to all potential contestants, we may post the answer to your question(s) online on our FAQ page.
* If selected in Phase 1, is the $20,000 prize to be used to fund the prototype in Phase 2 and travel expenses from April/May through October 2020 when the winner and runner-up are determined?
Technically speaking, the semifinalist in a challenge under the COMPETES Act can do what they wish with the prize money. However, the Government is not allowed to pay for travel expenses for non-contractors to come to the showcase, so we do ask that if solvers want to be present for the showcase, they use a portion of their prize to pay to come to the showcase.
* Do you expect the solution to interface with hospital FHIR servers? If so, do you expect the solution to be backward compatible with other releases of HL7 (e.g., HL7 2, 3)?
AHRQ foresees many possible solutions to this challenge problem. We cannot say at this time that every solution should interface with hospital FHIR servers. It will depend on the specific problem you're solving for and the solution you design. That said, AHRQ does expect solutions to be interoperable using FHIR and expects solutions to likely have interfaces with EHRs/EMRs in some way. If the designed solution leverages the latest version of the FHIR Standard, it is automatically backward compaticle to prior standard versions.
* Do entrants and award winners maintain control over their intellectual property related to the digital solution they propose?
The full IP disclosure is available at: https://www.ahrq.gov/mcctransitions-challenge/eligibility-criteria/ip-rights.html.
* updates as of March 19, 2020