Late Breaking News
Progress Notes September 2010
WINNERS OF THE HHSINNOVATES AWARDS PROGRAM were announced last month by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The program is aimed at supporting a “culture of innovation” in the agency. In response to an open request for innovation candidates, a total of 126 innovations from all HHS operating divisions were submitted. HHS employees voted for the best innovations and cast nearly 10,000 votes using the secure HHSinnovates intranet site. Candidates were judged on both innovativeness and potential for application elsewhere in HHS and government. Of the six selected through employee votes, Sebelius picked the three winners. The “Secretary’s Pick” awards went to: the National Collaboration on Childhood Obesity Research, which helps steer obesity research across institutions; Text4Baby, which provided free information on infant care; and the Purchasing Online Tracking System, which allows NIH to request and track purchasing orders.
THE REGIONAL BENEFITS OFFICE IN PROVIDENCE, RI will serve as a testing ground for VA’s new paperless benefits system. The pilot program, which initially focuses on compensation benefits, is expected to start at the Providence facility in November, with completion in May 2011. Additional pilots are expected before the new claims system is deployed to all 57 VA regional benefits offices.
The Providence pilot is part of the Veterans Benefits Management System, one of more than three dozen initiatives in progress at VA to address the backlog of unprocessed claims. This first VBMS pilot comes after completion of the Virtual Regional Office project collocated at the Baltimore Regional Office in May 2010. VA brought claims processors from around the country to Baltimore this past spring to assist in the rapid prototyping of a demonstration system. Secretary Eric Shinseki has set a goal that by 2015 VA will process all claims within 125 days with 98% accuracy.
AS PART OF EFFORTS TO STREAMLINE ACCESS, VA has removed the signature requirement for veterans who electronically submit an online 10-10EZ “Application for Health Benefits.” This simple tweak will subtract days, if not weeks, of waiting time for veterans who apply online for benefits, VA officials said. Previously, veterans filling out the online application were required to print a copy, sign it, and send it to their local medical center or wait for a copy to be mailed to them for signature and mailing before enrollment into the VA healthcare system could occur. The form is available at https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez/.
BONE HEALTH AND BONE DISEASE IS THE TOPIC of a new web resource providing people with the latest science-based information available through the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. The site is www.bones.nih.gov. One feature is the Check Up On Your Bones tool, an online interactive bone health assessment that provides personalized information on osteoporosis risk, as well as approaches to enhance bone health. Materials on the site fill gaps in information, such as the lack of knowledge among men about osteoporosis. The site includes resources specific to the needs of various multicultural communities and health information is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese languages. In addition to materials on bone health and osteoporosis, the NRC also provides information on the rarer Paget’s disease of bone and osteogenesis imperfecta (“brittle bone disease”). Additional materials on other rare bone diseases are planned for the coming year.
JAMES ANDERSON, MD, PHD HAS BEEN APPOINTED to be director of NIH’s Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). He is anticipated to take the post sometime this month. The DPCPSI’s mission includes identifying emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges, and scientific knowledge gaps that merit further research. The division plans and implements trans-NIH initiatives supported by the Common Fund and coordinates research related to AIDS, behavioral and social sciences, women’s health, and disease prevention. Anderson is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a position he has held since 2002. Before his appointment at Chapel Hill, he was Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Chief, Section of Digestive Diseases, at the Yale School of Medicine. Anderson has extensive clinical experience in both Internal Medicine and Hepatology, and he is considered among the top authorities in the world in his primary research field of tight junctions and paracellular transport. He has been a principal investigator on NIH grants for almost 20 years.