National Science Foundation and Healthcare

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    Henry Brown

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently announced the Smart and Connected Health (SCH) program solicitation

    From NSF:

    Program Title: Smart and Connected Health (SCH

    Synopsis of Program:

    The goal of the Smart and Connected Health (SCH) Program is to accelerate the development and use of innovative approaches that would support the much needed transformation of healthcare from reactive and hospital-centered to preventive, proactive, evidence-based, person-centered and focused on well-being rather than disease. Approaches that partner technology-based solutions with biobehavioral health research are supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The purpose of this program is to develop next generation health care solutions and encourage existing and new research communities to focus on breakthrough ideas in a variety of areas of value to health, such as sensor technology, networking, information and machine learning technology, decision support systems, modeling of behavioral and cognitive processes, as well as system and process modeling. Effective solutions must satisfy a multitude of constraints arising from clinical/medical needs, social interactions, cognitive limitations, barriers to behavioral change, heterogeneity of data, semantic mismatch and limitations of current cyberphysical systems. Such solutions demand multidisciplinary teams ready to address technical, behavioral and clinical issues ranging from fundamental science to clinical practice.

    Due in large part to advances in high throughput and connective computing, medicine is at the cusp of a sector-wide transformation that - if nurtured through rigorous scientific innovation - promises to accelerate discovery, improve patient outcomes, decrease costs, and address the complexity of such challenging health problems as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological degeneration. These transformative changes are possible in areas ranging from the basic science of molecular genomics and proteomics to decision support for physicians, patients and caregivers through data mining to support behavior change through technology-enabled social and motivational support. In addition to these scientific discoveries, innovative approaches are required to address delivery of high quality, economically-efficient healthcare that is rapidly becoming one of the key economic, societal and scientific challenges in the United States.

    The need for a significant healthcare transformation has been recognized by numerous organizations including the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), National Research Council (NRC), Institute of Medicine (IOM), Computing Community Consortium (CCC), and the National Academy of Engineering. Additionally, a congressionally mandated review of Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) emphasized the critical role that networking and information technology will play in spurring innovation to solve the nation's most pressing challenges, beginning with health and healthcare. Several of these agencies explicitly encouraged the Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., NIH, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Office National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT)) to work explicitly with the National Science Foundation to realize the scientific potential of digitally supported health and healthcare. Recommendations also called for joint funding between these agencies to conduct cross-cutting research into the social, cognitive, and behavioral processes underlying efficient use of the new technologies, and the analytic demands implied by the new large scale databases.

    The purpose of this interagency program solicitation is the development of next generation health and healthcare research through high-risk, high-reward advances in the understanding of and applications in information science, technology, behavior, cognition, sensors, robotics, bioimaging, and engineering. Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations is strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science, clinical practice and technology development, deployment and use. This solicitation is aligned with the visions (e.g., PCAST, NRC, IOM) calling for major changes in health and wellbeing as well as healthcare delivery and is aimed at the fundamental research to enable the change. Realizing the promise of disruptive transformation in health and healthcare will require well-coordinated, multi-disciplinary approaches that draw from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, engineering, medicine, biology, and computer and information sciences
    Download entire Program Solicitation (PDF)
    see some additional commentary from The Computing Community Consortium Blog:

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