The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and National Cancer Institute are looking to develop digital health solutions to address COVID-19 as well as advance new research in digital health technologies to improve public health responses.

According to a request for information (RFI), the solutions will “facilitate approaches that leverage multiple data sources, privacy-preserving technologies, and computational tools for managing population health and individuals’ lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This effort will employ a hub-and-spoke technology implementation model, in which each supported digital health solution (the spokes) will be encouraged to share deidentified data and other digital assets it generates with an NIH-supported central data hub,” the RFI said. “The purpose of this notice is to obtain information for the ‘spokes of the hub;’ not the hub itself.”

This effort to advance research into digital health solutions is partly due to limiting physical interactions with individuals, per social distancing guidelines, and to be more precise in deploying containment efforts only where they are needed. Additionally, NIH said it was important to broaden the understanding of geographic factors that relate to the exposure, spread and containment of the virus.

“Novel digital health solutions have the potential to improve care, understanding of health outcomes, and risk factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the RFI said. “This is especially important in underserved populations, which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and often have limited access to healthcare services.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.