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US wants unconventional, intelligent apps to help patients make healthcare decisions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today said it would fund the development of a new generation of what it called novel, unconventional intelligent applications that could help people make complex health decisions.

Specifically, the agency said it is looking to develop intelligent computer programs that could combine a person's computer-based health records and knowledge sources in the public domain. "The personal information may be drawn from a personal electronic health record maintained by the patient or from electronic medical records managed by a caregiver or hospital, or both. The intelligent computer program should be able to explain its reasoning and defend its conclusions to the patient, and state the certainty and reliability of its recommendations."

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From the HHS: "The potential impact of the proposed research must be substantial, in terms of both the size of the community affected and the magnitude of its impact on that community. The investigator should anticipate starting and completing the project during the term of the award, (applicants may request up to 4 years for the project period) since this funding opportunity is not for support of ongoing research or for pilot projects, and awards are not renewable.

"The rationale for this grant program is that for informatics advances to have significant impact in health and science, investigators must have opportunities to test unconventional, potentially paradigm-shifting hypotheses, and to use novel, innovative approaches to solve difficult technical and conceptual problems that severely impede progress in a field. The purpose of the NLM [National Library of Medicine] Advanced Informatics for Health grant is to foster exceptionally innovative informatics research that, if successful, will have an unusually high impact on a problem in health or biomedical research."

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