The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that it had launched a digital health accelerator aimed at addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PandemicX Accelerator, co-led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, is tasked with using digital tools and publicly accessible data to reduce the disparities and inequity worsened by the novel coronavirus.
The startups selected for the cohort include telehealth vendors, behavioral health tools, vaccination status platforms and healthcare ecosystem products, among others.
“PandemicX will help give us interoperable tools that identify health inequities and facilitate interventions that prevent such inequities from further turning into healthcare disparities,” said Micky Tripathi, U.S. National Coordinator for Health IT, in a statement.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to the agencies, the selected startups are part of the broader MassChallenge HealthTech cohort. They will focus on health equity by design, national public health solutions, behavioral and mental health, violence prevention, socioeconomic outcome indicators, and community resilience, said HHS.
The cohort includes:
- Culture Care Collective
- EatWell Meal Kits
- Eupnoos Ltd.
- Ferrum Health
- OMNY Health
According to HHS, startups will go through four months of curriculum, mentorship and exhibition events to produce avenues of growth and third-party collaboration. Stakeholders will offer public information throughout the process of developing targeted action plans to address each challenge statement.
THE LARGER TREND
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected historically marginalized communities, including Black, Latinx and Native people.
And the consequences go beyond the direct results of the virus. As many know by now, the coronavirus spurred a turn to telehealth, which, while helpful in closing gaps to care for some people, also presented a hurdle to services for others.
ON THE RECORD
“I am excited for the PandemicX Accelerator cohort to work with us to collectively address health equity barriers and other disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 by using data and innovation,” said Dr. Rachel L. Levine, assistant secretary for health, in a statement.
“We are at our best when all segments of society work together; we must work collaboratively to achieve the best solutions,” she added.