Public Voting Opens to Determine HHSinnovates People’s Choice Award Winner

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 28, 2013.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the start of public voting for the People’s Choice Award in the HHSinnovates Program.  The program recognizes inventive and original projects led by HHS employees, designed to help solve some of the nation’s most challenging health care problems.

HHS employees submit their innovations twice a year, with the top entries posted for online voting and comments by the internal HHS community.  Based on this input, six finalists are chosen, from which the People’s Choice is awarded.  Additionally, Secretary Sebelius will choose three finalists to honor as well. Winners are invited to Washington, DC to share their innovations with Department leadership and are recognized by the Secretary in an awards ceremony.

“The HHSinnovates Program recognizes those in the Department helping to change the way government works by solving some of the most complex challenges we face,” Secretary Sebelius said. “The ideas coming out of HHSinnovates are not only a reflection of health care and human service delivery needs we face daily, but also of the ingenuity and creativity of our workforce.”

This year’s awards ceremony will be held on March 19, 2013 and will feature Secretary Sebelius, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, and innovation guru Dr. Jennifer Kurkoski, Manager of the People and Innovation Lab at Google.

According to Kurkoski, “Good ideas can come from anywhere, and the people closest to the problems – an organization’s employees – often have the best and most creative insights.  Recognizing the value of those insights is critical to inspiring others.”

Starting today, the public is invited to cast their votes from among the six finalists – each of whom has submitted ideas that have proven to be scalable, replicable, and uniquely innovative. The finalist with the highest number of votes will win the “People’s Choice” award.  The winners, including the Secretary’s top picks, will be announced at the awards ceremony. The round’s six finalists include:

  • Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s – Seeking to increase participation in Alzheimer’s disease research and link research volunteers with available supportive services, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) teamed up to bring together ACL’s Aging Network, which provides supportive services to more than 10 million older adults and family caregivers, with the 27 NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers that conduct research.  This innovation has succeeded in connecting networks that do not usually intersect, as well as providing an opportunity for social service providers and researchers to educate and update each other through joint webinars and outreach activities. The initiative has helped inform and connect more individuals to the services provided by ACL, and contributed to a 25 percent increase in prospective research participants. These efforts continue to inspire collaborations at the state, local, and grassroots levels.
  • FDA-iRISK – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created FDA-iRISK, an interactive, web-based risk assessment tool, to provide regulatory and industry decision makers with a  fast standardized way of assessing risks in the food supply and predicting the effectiveness of interventions and control measures. The online system can (1) simultaneously compare and rank public-health risks from multiple contaminants, in multiple foods; (2) calculate how contamination and illness would change with changes in food-production practices; and (3) do it faster, via pre-assembled mathematical functions and templates.  The FDA collaborated with the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Risk Sciences International, and others to make FDA-iRISK widely available, for free, including to countries that export food to the U.S.
  • The Body Weight Simulator– To advance the science of weight loss prediction and provide more accurate, personalized weight management programs, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed the Body Weight Simulator. This innovative online tool, which has been scientifically vetted and is being tested to determine practical utility, accurately models changes in body fat and metabolism in response to diet or exercise interventions. Since its launch in 2011, the Body Weight Simulator has been accessed online by over 750,000 visitors. The simulator represents an important advancement for weight management professionals, policymakers, and researchers in helping Americans achieve and permanently maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Portal System:  Linking Health Care Clinics – The California Area Office of the Indian Health Services (IHS) developed an innovative online portal to connect and provide one-stop access to training and technical assistance to over 2,000 staff at  46 geographically dispersed tribal and health care programs.  What differentiates this system from other available technologies is that it requires no licensing, reaches beyond federal intranets, and supports customization. This portal system could be easily scaled to other government agencies and provides a cost-efficient and effective way to support customers who are outside the federal security boundary.
  • Counterfeit Detector Device – To protect against counterfeit, unapproved, and potentially dangerous medicines entering the United States through fraudulent sources, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Forensic Chemistry Center created the Counterfeit Detection Device (CDx), a portable hand-held device that can spot suspected counterfeit drug products or packaging.  The device uses fixed wavelengths of light, from ultraviolet to infrared, to rapidly screen and detect counterfeit products and packaging in real-time. The device is currently being used in an FDA laboratory, international mail facilities, and import centers.  This innovation provides a low-cost, convenient tool that could potentially be transferred to other regulatory agencies or product areas.
  • The Weight of the Nation Campaign – A unique collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Home Box Office network (HBO), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente, led to the creation of a far reaching multimedia initiative to mobilize personal and community action to curb and prevent obesity.  NIH and CDC scientific and communication experts provided guidance for more than three years to the Weight of the Nation campaign, helping to form the foundation of a four-film documentary series and supplementary materials. The Weight of the Nation is a powerful illustration of how federal agencies can work  together and with private funders to use innovative approaches to address obesity in the United States.

Public voting begins today and runs through March 8, 2013.  The winners will be announced at the HHSinnovates awards ceremony on March 19, 2013 from 11 – 11:30 AM (EST). The awards ceremony will be telecast to the public on

To celebrate innovation by our employees, the HHSinnovates program was launched in the spring of 2010 as part of HHS’s Open Government efforts.

To learn more, visit the HHSinnovates webpage at: