HHS looks to private sector for new innovation, investment summit

Looking to the private sector, Eric Hargan, deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, yesterday announced a new program called the Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit. The year-long program seeks to link innovation and investment professionals to HHS representatives, facilitating conversations between the public and private sector about the future of healthcare innovation and financing, as well the government’s role in these efforts. 

“Collaboration between HHS and private sector investors and innovators is critical to advancing new solutions and evolving healthcare in America,” Hargan said in a statement. “We believe this will produce new approaches that will improve the health and wellbeing of the American people. As the healthcare community innovates, HHS must also be innovative in how we engage with that community.”

The plan is for innovators and investors to sit down with HHS professionals quarterly to talk about the industry, culminating in an “Industry Day” after the fourth meeting. There will also be the potential for working group spinouts, which could include additional participation, according to HHS. 

The program also seeks to zero in on government policies and examine whether they are helping or hindering innovations. 

Right now the department is looking for participants with experience in executive leadership, private equity, venture capital, and healthcare lending for this voluntary position. The department is currently accepting recommendations until October 3 and asking for candidates resumes and a description of why the candidate would be a good fit for the program. 

According to HHS, this program comes from the department’s June “Request for Information,” which requested public feedback. 

But this program is just one of HHS’ efforts to look to the private sector for innovation. At HIMSS2018 in March, former HHS CTO Bruce Greenstein discussed the importance of public and private partnerships. Ever since the Obama administration, HHS has been working on releasing more data, between both government agencies and the public. 

In fact, in the last year the HHS has turned to the private sector to help it solve some of the nation’s most difficult problems, for example the opioid epidemic. In December the agency put together a code-a-thon to address the opioid crisis. Innovators from across the country were invited to use the open data and compete for one of three $10,000 prizes and contribute ideas towards solving the epidemic.

“We are teaching the department that there are all these people around the country that are willing to help out and it is was important for us to address this problem with humility,” Greenstein told MobiHealthNews in January. “Basically we are saying we need help and we reached out to the tech, innovation, and data community.”

HHS is also seeking public feedback from the private sector about its initiatives. Recently, it released a new report about the first findings of the data sharing initiatives. In addition to interviews with government agencies, the department surveyed business owners about the program. 

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