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Opportunity Project Helps Streamline the Sharing of COVID-19 Test Results

From US Census Bureau

May 07, 2021

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.

Through a product development cycle called a “sprint”, 12 technology teams created digital products to transmit COVID-19 diagnostics data efficiently, securely, and accurately.

To focus on this national challenge, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, facilitated a COVID-19 TOPx tech sprint to help develop innovative digital solutions for data capture, harmonization and reporting from COVID-19 tests.

Through a product development cycle called a “sprint”, 12 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?

TOPx is modeled on The Opportunity Project (TOP), which brings together technology experts,  government officials, and communities to rapidly generate and prototype digital products — powered by federal open data — that solve real-world problems for communities across the country.

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.

Sprint Teams Find Solutions to Problems

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.

Products Developed by Sprint Teams

Here are some examples:

  • 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.

More about TOP

To date, more than 1,500 individuals, 30 federal agencies, and hundreds of organizations have participated in TOP, leading to 135 new open data tools including apps, websites, mapping tools, data visualizations, games, and more.

Now, with the TOPx and Product Development toolkits, the TOP model can be used by any organization or individual to develop data-driven technology and elevate community voices in response to some of our country’s most pressing challenges.

Join us May 25 as we showcase these amazing tools virtually on Zoom. RSVP at TOPx HHS Showcase.

Sign up for emails to stay in the loop and learn more about upcoming sprints in 2021. Questions? Contact Census Open Innovation Labs.

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