Over the years, there has been continued improvement of health for Americans with the introduction of medical and scientific advances. Despite notable improvements gained as a result of the technological advancement, there continues to be an alarming disproportionate burden of illness among racial and ethnic minority and other health disparity populations. To meet this challenge, the NIMHD is committed to supporting a wide range of research, aimed at the development of innovative diagnostics, treatments, and prevention strategies that improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations or reduce, and eventually eliminate health disparities.
The purpose of this funding opportunity is to engage small business concerns (SBC) in developing technologies and products that engage, empower, and motivate individuals and communities, including providers and healthcare institutions, in sustainable health promoting activities and interventions that lead to improved health, healthcare delivery, and the elimination of health disparities in one or more NIH-defined health disparity population group(s). NIH-defined health disparity population groups include racial and ethnic minorities (African Americans/Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders), socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, individuals residing in rural areas, and sexual/gender minorities. Appropriate technologies must be effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and easily accessible to those who need them.
NIMHD seeks research projects aimed at the development of innovative products, for example, diagnostics, treatments, and prevention strategies, etc., and making these products available and accessible to racial and ethnic minority populations or other health disparity populations. Technologies to address the unique health burdens experienced by health disparity populations in urban and underserved rural areas are of particular interest, including technologies to support healthy eating and active living, access and utilization of important governmental services and new scientific information and technologies that can help improve their quality of life; decrease food insecurity and decrease childhood obesity rates. Technologies may be new and innovative, or they may arise from existing technologies that by redesign reduce or eliminate health disparity outcomes or improve the health of racial and ethnic populations by a number of mechanisms operating within different socioecological domains and levels of influence as identified in the NIMHD research framework, https://nimhd.nih.gov/about/overview/research-framework.html.
For racial/ethnic minorities, the proposed product may provide increased and more attractive opportunities for improved and better health, preventing and treating disease, and maintaining a long and healthy lifestyle. Nutrition related technologies should not duplicate existing information and should use science-based nutrition content from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 or from sources of federal nutrition communications for the public, such as http://www.choosemyplate.gov or http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition. Empowering technologies are appealing, attractive, accessible, easy to use, adoptable, affordable and sustainable. To be effective, a technology should provide users with improvements in access, affordability, health status and well-being relative to their current health status and well-being. The technology should be reliable, robust, and have reproducible outcomes.
Ideally, the proposed technology should improve racial and ethnic minority health or reduce health disparities through the enhancement of:
Access to healthcare institutions and providers, especially those located in geographically remote or physically difficult to access locations;
Medical and health knowledge through increased opportunities for populations with limited English proficiency or low health, food or media literacy;
Diverse medical and non-medical providers and organizations serving health disparity populations, including medical specialists, appropriately resourced small or large centers with access to advanced medical technologies, and organizations dedicated to health promotion through access to nutritious food, such as farmer's markets, etc.;
Publicly available resources including free and/or affordable and sustainable insurance coverage, enrollment in social safety net programs, such as the women, infants, and children special supplemental nutrition program (WIC), Medicaid, social security, school meals, etc.; and
Quality healthcare delivered in culturally acceptable and respectful manners and in safe environments and appropriately priced for providers, hospitals, community-health care centers, primary care physicians, etc.
Specific Areas of Research Interest
Technologies that might achieve the objectives of this initiative may be as follows:
Innovative products or services that facilitate or enhance care coordination between primary care providers, hospital emergency department staff, specialty physicians, nurse practitioners, providers of mental health and behavioral health services, patient navigators, etc., in medically underserved communities and regions.
Culturally attuned behavioral interventions or low-cost tools and technologies (e.g. software apps for mobile devices) that empower and promote opportunities for individuals and communities to engage in health-seeking behaviors (diet choice, exercise/physical activity, oral hygiene, medication adherence, child immunizations, etc.) and to avoid risky behaviors (smoking, alcohol/drug misuse, unsafe sex, etc.).
Tools, technologies, and methods for detecting, measuring, and assessing a broad array of unhealthy social and environmental exposures (stress, pollutants, allergens, noise, crime, etc.), and for characterizing cumulative exposures to these environments (exposomes) for individuals and communities and linking this information to physiological responses and health indicators at the individual and population levels. These technologies may include efforts to improve data collection and data integration across disparate data sources, including clinical patient data, public health data, census data, housing data, employment data, crime statistics, etc.
Products or services that expand opportunities to access and utilize high-quality prenatal care and thereby reduce the frequency of high-risk pregnancies in health disparity populations.
Products or services that engage, empower, and motivate individuals and communities to enhance the quality of life and reduce health disparities.
Culturally appropriate survey instruments, tools, modules and databases to promote community-based research engaging racial/ethnic minorities, rural and other medically underserved communities.
Culturally appropriate, evidence-based health empowering promotion and disease prevention educational media such as software, informational videos, printed materials for health disparities populations and disadvantaged communities.
Innovative software, tools and technology for Science and Health Education such as curriculum materials, interactive teaching aids, models for classroom instruction for K-12 and undergraduate students and the general public.
Mobile health (mHealth) and telehealth/telemedicine technologies and apps for communication, diagnosis, monitoring, evaluation, medical management, tracking and treatment in underserved community settings and rural and remote locations.
Groundbreaking products or technology to promote big data science or enhance data scientist training to address health inequities and/or minority health research, for example software or tools developed to easily link social determinants of health (e.g., years of education, race/ethnicity, etc.) with massive datasets such as electronic medical record (EMR), genomic information, census data, national surveys, and other state or community-level data sources. Such technology will be instrumental in understanding fundamental causes of health disparities and developing meaningful interventions.
Technologies for the rapid identification in human specimens (e.g., blood, buccal swabs, etc.) of genes and/or genomic variants of known importance to minority health.
See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.
See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.