ACL will award prizes totaling $500,000 to generate IT solutions to support integration of health care and human services
Partnerships between health care and community-based social services organizations have been shown to improve health outcomes and lower costs. Today, ACL launched a Challenge Competition to spur development of the interoperable, statewide referral and analytics platforms needed to enable these partnerships.
The competition is unique in that it requires collaboration by key stakeholders to design and implement solutions. These stakeholders include state leaders across aging, disability and Medicaid programs, community based organizations in the aging and disability networks, health IT developers, health care providers, health plans, and others with expertise in technical standards and data analysis.
A continuum of support and care: health care and the aging and disability network
Services delivered in the home and in the community that prevent falls, address food insecurity and transportation issues, manage chronic disease, support employment and economic independence, reduce social isolation, and address other non-medical risk factors have been shown to improve health outcomes and reduce the cost of care.
Since 1965, the aging and disability network has been a trusted resource for meeting these needs, delivering home- and community-based services to one in five of America’s older adults, as well as people of all ages with disabilities. This network includes more than twenty thousand community-based organizations and is present across the U.S. These organizations have unmatched expertise in local culture and needs, service coordination and delivery, and securing benefits, services and supports that maximize independence and functioning. Their reach into homes also provides an opportunity to identify risks and connect people to interventions before health issues become crises. Consequently, partnerships with this network have proven to be an effective way for health care organizations to include interventions to address social determinants in the continuum of care.
These partnerships are growing in both number and importance as demand for seamless integration of health care and social services continues to grow. As a result, the need for interoperable IT infrastructure to connect the partners has become critical.
The Problem: Where we are today
The health care and social services sectors have invested in technology independently. For example:
States have invested in resource directory and referral management systems to support their efforts to streamline and improve their systems for connecting older adults and people with disabilities to long-term services and supports.
- Provider- and plan-specific referral platforms are often not leveraging the existing network that enables access to a variety of services and supports that address social needs.
- In addition, health IT developers are implementing innovative platforms that refer people to community resources, but they often create wall gardens in communities because they do not incorporate common standards and lack interoperability.
This siloed development is:
- Creating inefficiency in managing referrals for social services;
- Creating duplicative workflows in an already strained system; and
- Impeding opportunities to provide better support and care for the people served by either system.
The (First Steps Toward a) Solution
To begin to address these issues, ACL is seeking scalable technology solutions that provide the following capabilities:
- Efficient data sharing between health care and social services organizations
- Collection and visualization of data on referrals, prevalence of specific social needs, service utilization and gaps, and outcomes – over time, and at the individual, organizational, and regional levels
These solutions must:
- Interoperate within existing systems and with electronic health records
- Support the development adoption of common technical standards and increased overall interoperability of systems
- Incorporate closed-loop referral and follow-up protocols to track and support individuals when they obtain services from any organization or health care provider within the network.
- Be developed with multi-stakeholder input and investment
About the Prize Competition
The prize competition will award a total of $500,000 in a three phases:
- Phase 1: Concept and Design Submission - Multi-stakeholder teams propose ideas and concept designs for developing the technology platforms described above. This may include new development or functional enhancements to existing platforms. Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the phase to support development of proofs of concept. Teams must submit letters of intent to participate no later than May 15, 2020.
- Phase 2: Proof of Concept Demonstration - The winning teams from Phase 1 will convene to demonstrate their solutions. In January 2021, up to three finalists will receive prizes of $60,000 to pilot their solutions.
- Phase 3: Implementation & Testing. One grand prize of $140,000 will be awarded in August 2021 to support further real-world testing and development of a staged approach to statewide implementation.
Additional information about the challenge can be found at challenge.gov. ACL will host a webinar on March 25, 2020 to provide additional details about submission requirements.