HHS launches ‘Design-A-Thon’ to better capture COVID diagnostic data

The COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-a-thon seeks to find a solution that will capture, harmonize, and transmit diagnostic data to healthcare providers and public health officials.
coronavirus, covid-19, pandemic, virus, health, medicine
(Getty Images)

The Department of Health and Human Services is leading a virtual technology sprint to help automatically capture data from non-laboratory COVID-19 tests and report it to public health officials — an essential process for a data-driven pandemic response.

The so-called COVID-19 At-Anywhere Diagnostics Design-A-Thon is a call for “innovative problem solvers” to develop device-integrated software that will capture diagnostic data, standardize it, and report it out. Many of the newer non-laboratory tests, including point-of-care and at-home tests, lack the capability to report critical data to healthcare providers and public health officials, obfuscating a larger picture of disease incidence and infection trends.

Participants will be able to use COVID-19 data sets and other open data to develop the user-friendly software. The first goal is to integrate the winning Design-A-Thon product with in vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices while they are still in development. This way, patient demographic and diagnostic data will automatically get pushed to the right public health authorities.

Additionally, the Design-A-Thon seeks to create a U.S. government-developed interface — called “Wireless Automated Transmission for Electronic Reporting Systems” (WATERS) — that will provide system-agnostic “docking” between the reporting system and HHS Protect, the agency’s COVID-19 data hub. Ideally, this interface will ensure standardization and interoperability across diagnostic data sets.


The Design-A-Thon is currently open for registration and will kick off Nov. 16. Winners will be announced two weeks later, judged on criteria such as feasibility, innovation, sustainability and scalability.

Latest Podcasts