COVID-19 News

Census partners with HHS on TOPx tech sprint to generate COVID-19 solutions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, facilitated a COVID-19 tech sprint to help develop innovative digital solutions for data capture, harmonization and reporting from COVID-19 tests. The finalists will demonstrate their solutions during a Showcase Day on May 25.

In the midst of a global pandemic, diagnostic results from COVID-19 testing are crucial for decision-making at all levels, from school boards and doctors to employers and local government officials. However, diagnostic devices particularly from rapid at-home, over-the-counter testing and COVID-19 test results have not yet been paired with digital software tools to easily transmit the information.

The COVID-19 TOPx sprint is modeled on The Opportunity Project (TOP), a Census Bureau program that brings together technology experts, government officials, and communities to rapidly generate and prototype digital products — powered by federal open data — to solve real-world problems for communities across the country. Twelve technology teams created digital products to transmit COVID-19 diagnostics data efficiently, securely, and accurately. The goal is to provide key stakeholders — including federal, state, local and tribal governments, patients, healthcare providers, employers, schools and consumers — easy access to diagnostic data.

Participating teams were selected from the HHS COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-a-thon, an open innovation technology design sprint open to the public.

Nearly 1,000 participants from government, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations worked to develop digital health tools to automatically capture and wirelessly transmit data from at-anywhere COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

What Is TOPx?

The TOPx Toolkit provides an adaptable resource for federal agencies, developed by the Census Bureau’s Census Open Innovation Labs (COIL), that enables federal agencies to conduct their own virtual technology development sprints to address key national challenges.

A traditional TOP sprint focuses on challenges identified by multiple federal agencies and facilitated by COIL. In contrast, a TOPx sprint allows federal agencies to use the TOP model on their own, using the TOPx playbook.

Agencies can follow a step-by-step guide and run sprints on their own to engage the public, industry, academia, civic and social sectors in creating data-driven solutions with real-world impact.

For the HHS and Census Bureau effort, teams were asked to focus on helping:
* State and local public health authorities track and understand COVID-19 diagnostic data from populations and communities.
* Stakeholders outside of health care make key operational decisions from diagnostic data.
* Consumers and businesses manage point-of-care testing data outside lab settings.

Here are some examples of products developed by sprint teams:
* Lifepoint consolidates COVID-19 diagnostics test data from laboratories, centralizing and sharing results with federal and state health authorities, providers, employers, schools and other organizations. It allows users to make operational decisions using this data.
* UDoTest integrates with rapid COVID-19 tests to allow representatives of large employers or organizations to request a test and track their results. Diagnostics data can then be shared with employer systems and health agencies. The team also focused more broadly on patient test data management and is considering use beyond just COVID-19.
* Net Medical Xpress Solutions, Inc collects, coordinates and transmits COVID-19 test data to local, state, and federal authorities. This team specializes in managing information from custom data fields to address the fact that many state and local governments are collecting data (such as gender identity) based on local needs not required in national data.

These technology products are a small sample of the dozens of tools that have been created through this intersection of federal agencies, technologists, non-profits and advocacy voices from communities that are most impacted by these national challenges.

Learn more about these and other products on May 25 at the upcoming COVID-19 TOPx Virtual Solutions Showcase Day.

Read more:

Attend the Showcase Day: https://federallabs.org/events/solutions-showcase-covid-19-topx-sprint