Health+ Lyme Disease Program Bolsters Public-Private Partnership’s $25 Million LymeX Initiative

Angela Palm Hopkins
Coforma
Published in
3 min readJan 4, 2021

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In a new engagement, a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, we’ve launched the second iteration of our Health+ program: Health+ Lyme Disease.

HHS Lyme Innovation is a patient-centered initiative that uses a data-driven approach to Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. LymeX Innovation Accelerator (LymeX), a part of the HHS Lyme Innovation effort, is a $25 million, three-year public-private partnership between HHS and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. LymeX aims to accelerate innovation that addresses prevention, diagnosis, and treatment deficits through collaboration with patients, patient advocates, and a wide range of stakeholders in academia, nonprofits, industry, and government.

The Coforma program, Health+ Lyme Disease, will supplement the broader LymeX initiative with human-centered design (HCD) research and a Healthathon that generates cross-discipline, collaborative solutions for people living with Lyme disease.

Why Lyme Disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recent estimates suggest that approximately 300,000 people may get Lyme disease each year in the United States. While commonly referred to as an endemic, Lyme disease has impacted patients in nearly every state, making it the largest vector-borne disease in the US. In addition, the number of counties in the northeastern and upper midwestern US that are considered high-risk for Lyme disease increased by more than 300% between 1993 and 2012.

Due to a wide variety of symptoms, people with Lyme disease are often misdiagnosed, overlooked, and not taken seriously, leading to damaging consequences to their health. There is growing frustration and mistrust from Lyme sufferers who have received “one size fits all” treatments and have had their lives derailed by Lyme disease because of it.

The degree of alarm and confusion about such a long-standing public-health issue has become detrimental to Lyme treatments and diagnostics’ progression. This stagnation leaves healthcare professionals with limited resources and tools to accurately diagnose and treat patients.

About the Health+ Lyme Disease Program

Health+ Lyme Disease will harness the power of human-centered design and research methods, drive innovation that’s informed by data, and utilize emerging technologies to build a stronger health safety net for those affected by the disease.

“Our HHS partners have worked hard to ensure this program receives the funding it needs to get off the ground. Together, we will unite leaders in multiple disciplines to develop critical solutions that positively impact the lives of people living with Lyme disease,” says Coforma Chief Experience Officer, Ashleigh Axios.

Coforma will facilitate the Health+ Lyme disease program, collaborating with HHS, PISTIS, CODE, and Ensemble to engage stakeholders, end users, and cross-discipline subject matter experts in each of the program’s component areas. The Healthathon is slated for May 2021.

People who are interested in participating in the program’s activities should register on the LymeX Crowdicity website, where they can engage with others in the Lyme community and vote on the top research priorities. Patients, caregivers, doctors, and Lyme advocates can also complete a survey to be considered for an interview or workshop.

About Health+

Coforma’s Health+ program utilizes HCD research to better understand a high-impact health issue placed in focus. Each Health+ engagement is part of an ongoing series of research and Healthathon cycles. These cycles aim to construct a more supportive infrastructure around the most medically vulnerable populations in the US through private-public collaboration, cross-industry dialogue and collaboration, and creative problem solving with the potential for policy, technology, and systems solutions.

The program outlines accurate personas within populations affected by targeted high-impact health issues, identifies needs for specific groups, develops journey maps that capture support infrastructure pain points and opportunities, and creates tools that will ultimately be leveraged through policy, by clinicians in healthcare spaces, and in other support areas in order to directly improve the lives of those living with the targeted health issue through the most effective means possible (validated through our research).

Read about Health+ Sickle Cell Disease.

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Angela Palm Hopkins
Coforma

Director of Strategic Communications at Coforma. Author. Editor.