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US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (HHS-ONC)


Process Improvement and Project Management for Health IT Data Standard


HHS-ONC has a shared interest in the widespread adoption of health data interoperability standards; however, market uptake has been slow due to lack of scalable business models and products that use open standards, specification, and APIs provided by the Health Relationship Trust (HEART).


The principal federal entity responsible for national implementation of advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information - HHS-ONC - worked with Ensemble team members to design a multi-staged process improvement of a traditional grant management program. The new program incentivized the submission of novel product proposals, funded only the top technical business solutions, and scaled and incubated new businesses by using pay for performance mechanisms and public-private partnerships. This required a crafting of de-novo incentive structure and submission evaluation criteria that required the use of data interoperability standards and specifications as a core tenant. After delivering the process improvement strategy, Ensemble supported the program’s execution through end-to-end project management and catalyzing go-to-market partnerships for award winners.

  • Identified 10 commercial–ready solutions which developed prototype products.

  • 100% of awardees implemented new Health Relationship Trust (HEART) data interoperability standards backed by HHS-ONC. Post-challenge interviews with participants provided feedback to profiles and specifications.

  • Ideas were prototyped and commercialized using a multi-stage incentive design that was completed ~2x faster than comparable Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phases.

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