A Digital Health Collaborative

How the nation’s digital health ecosystems are banding together to accelerate innovation.

Oftentimes, regulatory and business guidelines are non-uniformly implemented, which strongly contributes to healthcare’s fragmented culture. Speakers and attendees at HIMSS 2018 spoke to a fragmented system which is ultimately dangerous for patients. A patient transitioning between care settings, medical records, drugs, and devices is a patient at risk.

Many organizations announced partnerships to address these challenges, including a newly formed alliance between over 20 of the nation’s health ecosystems leaders.

The Collaborative consists of organizations from over 20 regional ecosystems

These leaders met to begin work on the Digital Health Collaborative — an open source initiative whose goal it is to use the power of community to accelerate the adoption and implementation of innovative health solutions.

While these organizations are influential regionally, their best practices often fail to break beyond their local sphere of influence. On March 5th when the steering committee met, they discussed how the Collaborative should embody a bias towards action, open source structure, collaborative spirit, and ecosystem-based approach to supporting innovation. By working together and coordinating efforts, members of the steering committee believed that a more unified innovation culture could emerge.

Bruce Greenstein, Chief Technology Officer of the United States Department of Health and Human Services speaking at the Digital Health Collaborative steering committee

Members of the DHC steering committee were joined by the Chief Technology Officer (Bruce Greenstein) and Chief Data Officer (Mona Siddiqui) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services to ratify the goals, governance, and initial projects of the Collaborative. HHS leaders shared support for the initiative, expressing their excitement that so many organizations from around the country volunteered their time to make a collective and positive impact on the ecosystem.

The Digital Health Collaborative Launch Structure

The DHC is a group of volunteer ecosystem leaders working together to address the challenges of bringing innovations to market.

The Collaborative functions primarily as an open-source initiative where ecosystem leaders and members of the community identify and work on high-impact projects. A project team must have at least two leads from two regions to begin work.

The Collaborative initially plans to meet twice annually at HIMSS in March and the Connected Health Conference in October. Project teams will meet more regularly with the goals reporting out on their key deliverables at the bi-annual meetings. Once a project is completed, the steering committee will review and approve the project for distribution across the Collaborative network.

For example, if the Collaborative worked on a project to standardize the IRB process and approved a “Common App” framework, it would then distribute that framework across its network and into each regional ecosystem. Instead of each organization needing to reinvent the wheel with each research engagement, the benefits of this standard framework would enable a faster go-to-market approach for researchers and solutions architects.

The initial goals, governance, and projects of the Collaborative are listed below along with a registration link to join a project.

Collaborative Goals:

  1. Use the power of community to accelerate the adoption and implementation of innovative health solutions
  2. Work collaboratively across health ecosystems to develop best practices, share lessons learned, and leverage existing resources more effectively to fuel health innovation and regional growth

Collaborative Governance & Engagement:

Steering Committee

  • 2 Co-Chairs for 2-year terms (staggered)
  • Committee (~20 people)

Project Teams / Working Groups

  • 2 Leads for project duration
  • Must include two or more regions participating


  • Volunteer innovators from ecosystems, engaging in events and in working groups
Creating a “Common App” for the BAA is one of the Collaborative’s first projects

Initial Projects of the Collaborative:

  1. Mapping the Nation’s Ecosystems — A project that will create a “Hitchhiker’s Guide” to the digital health ecosystem. This guide will enable communities to showcase their local assets, while allowing organizations from outside their regions to better engage with their communities.
  2. Common App for the BAA — A project that will create a standard BAA procedure with the goal of streamlining a 6–12 month process into a 6–12 day process.
  3. Common Accelerator Curriculum — Many of the nation’s accelerators are developing curriculum, but are not coordinating that curriculum. This creates duplicative work and the potential for startups to learn from redundant or contradictory information. The goal is to coordinate curriculum across accelerators to maximize startup’s access to useful knowledge

Other Projects For Consideration:

  1. Sharing Speaker Contacts — Tired of the same speakers from your local community? Want to promote awesome people from your local community to a national stage? The Collaborative wants to facilitate the sharing and promoting great speakers.
  2. Common Accelerator App — There are so many competitions around the country with different application processes. For startups, the process of applying takes away from their ability to build. By creating a more standard framework, startups could do more.
  3. Health Systems Sharing Learnings to Support Pilots and Implementations — There’s no reason why pilots have to occur multiple times. It’s a waste of time for both the innovator and the institution. How can we share best practices and learnings to reduce the time to bring innovation in?
  4. Digital Health Collaborative Startup Certification — Can we create an approval or certification process that validates the quality of a startup to streamline the implementation process?

Join a Project Team

Naming the Digital Health Collaborative:

While the group loves to collaborate, the steering committee believes in identifying a better name for this initiative. Submit your ideas here.

Who is the Collaborative?

Founding Regional Organizations:

Founding National Organizations:

Federal Government Support:

Founding Co-Chairs:

Join the Collaborative and sign up for our newsletter!