U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Carol Ortiz, 355th Medical Support Squadron medical lab technician, prepares a COVID-19 sample kit at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, March 27, 2020. Medical staff collected samples for COVID-19 testing in protective gear for safety reasons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Winners of HHS Design-a-thon to Develop Innovative Digital Health Tools for COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostic Tests Announced

Sixteen winning designs (listed below) selected from the HHS COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-a-thon aim to increase speed, quality, comprehensiveness, and utility of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test data. This effort will help maintain visibility and increase reporting accuracy on SARS-CoV-2 infection rates across the country. Another contest objective is to ensure that all SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tools can securely transmit test results to local and national public health authorities, as well as health care providers and patients, ensuring a timely public health response.

The COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-a-thon, led by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), and the HHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), attracted 700 participants over a 10-day technology innovation sprint. Thirty-one teams submitted final capstone projects for judging. All submitted final capstone projects are publicly viewable here.

“The Design-a-thon harnessed the power of American ingenuity to ensure we have accurate, user-friendly reporting of COVID-19 testing results, especially those from rapid, easy to use tests,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD. “The development of new technology for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing greatly enhances our capabilities, but also introduces new challenges for the public health response. More FDA-authorized rapid diagnostics, such as point-of-care, over-the-counter, and at-home tests, are increasingly being utilized but often lack an easy way for users, such as schools, nursing homes, or businesses, to report results. This effort will address this gap.”

Winners of the Design-a-thon will advance to a 6-week TOPx (The Opportunity Project) virtual tech sprint to expedite further development starting in January 2021. The culmination of TOPx is a public-facing “Demo Day,” which will showcase many potential solutions and products from different organizations.

The ultimate result of both the Design-a-thon and TOPx technology sprints will be SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests that have built-in, automated, harmonized data capture and wireless transmission capabilities. These capabilities will alleviate data collection and reporting burdens for patients, providers, anyone administering/using tests, labs through which data is routed – but perhaps most critically, these capabilities will be necessary for data capture and reporting when at-home, non-prescription, and over-the-counter tests are authorized and begin saturating the market. On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, FDA authorized an antigen test as the first over-the-counter fully at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19.

Read more at HHS

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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