According to a June 9 press release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the launch of the “Building Bridges to Better Health: A Primary Health Care Challenge.” The challenge is a national competition with a total of $1 million in cash prizes to promote innovation through technical support to health centers.
The release states that “Competition participants will accelerate the development of low-cost, scalable solutions to help HRSA-supported community health centers improve patient access to primary care and strengthen the link between healthcare and social services. It is part of an ongoing effort of the Biden-Harris Administration to address social determinants of health and advance health equity.”
Further, “HRSA’s Health Center Program funds approximately 1,400 health centers in communities across the country to provide high quality, comprehensive primary and preventive healthcare for the nation’s underserved individuals and families, including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, and residents of public housing. Nearly 62 percent of health center patients are racial and ethnic minorities. In 2020, HRSA-funded health centers provided care for 1 out of 11 people in the United States and its territories, 1 in 3 people living in poverty, 1 in 6 people who are uninsured, and 1 in 5 residents in rural areas.”
The release adds that the competition is a partnership that includes a large range of public partners that aims to improve health outcomes through social determinants of health, as SDOH have a significant outcome on health outcomes and contribute to health disparities and inequities.
“Advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities is a central priority of the Biden-Harris Administration,” the release adds. “Earlier this spring, HHS released an overview of the Federal Social Determinants of Health Strategy and Action Plan—a whole-of-government, multi-sector strategy to advance health equity and address the underlying systemic and environmental factors that affect health status.”
The competition is open to general public participation, including individuals, groups, and healthcare organizations. A total of $1 million in cash prizes will be awarded over three phases including
- Phase 1: concept design
- Phase 2: prototype development and testing
- Phase 3: scaling of the approach
Submissions for Phase 1 are due on August 2. Awards for Phase 1 total $300,000 for up to 30 winners.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra was quoted in the release saying that “It takes all of us working together to find innovative solutions that can help improve the conditions that affect people’s health and well-being. At HHS, we are committed to addressing health disparities and breaking down barriers to care. Earlier this spring we launched our whole-of-government strategy to address social determinants of health, and now we look forward to partnering with innovators across the country to implement the best and brightest ideas to make healthcare more equitable for all.”