HHS Launches New Challenge to Aid People with Durable Medical Equipment

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

A nationwide challenge seeks ideas on a system that, in emergencies, can determine the location and status of life-sustaining durable medical equipment (DME), such as oxygen concentrators and portable ventilators, and get help to users. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) launched the challenge.

“For most Americans, losing power during a storm is an inconvenience, but for some, electricity is a matter of life or death,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response and a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. “With access to real-time information about the locations and remaining battery life during emergencies, communities can meet the needs and possibly save lives of people who rely on durable medical equipment.”

Thousands of people in the United States rely on electrically powered DMEs to meet their medical needs at home. In prolonged power outages, they often must seek help in shelters or emergency rooms to power the equipment or recharge the battery.

A system that automatically monitors and electronically communicates the status and location of a device could assist these individuals, their caregivers, and first responders in planning and responding, such as sending a charged replacement battery or prioritizing power restoration.

Through the challenge, ASPR seeks ideas for a system that can capture essential data from DME, including loss of power, power level, GPS location, time and date, battery life, and privacy-protected user identifying information. The system should be accessible to all patients who use DME in their homes and must securely send data to other secure information systems.

The challenge may help spur innovative ideas that can be developed into tools to help communities support DME users during emergencies.

Ideas will be evaluated by experts and judged by Dr. Lurie. Experts will include leaders from the design, device, venture, and government sectors. The person or team with the best idea could receive up to $5,000 from ASPR and may be invited to present the idea publicly.

For details and to register to participate in the Ideation Challenge, visit www.challenge.gov and search for this ASPR challenge. 

About HHS and ASPR
HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. Visit www.phe.gov to learn more about ASPR and public health and medical emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.