Baltimore City Health Department Launches New Civic Innovation Program


BALTIMORE, MD (March 2, 2017) – The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) today celebrated the inaugural cohort of Baltimore City’s TECHealth (Transforming Engineering for Civic Health) program, an innovative initiative that engages members of Baltimore’s thriving technology and design communities to address local public health challenges.

At today’s public demonstration, the initial cohort’s seven teams displayed the progress made on their projects that focused on utilizing design, technology, and agile problem-solving to foster innovation within Baltimore City government.

“Collaboration is essential to improving health across Baltimore and realizing the economic possibility for our city,” said Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “TECHealth embodies these principles by tapping into the creative and entrepreneurial potential of our residents. We see Baltimore as the hub for civic innovation and think TECHealth can be Baltimore City’s ‘research and development lab’ for public health.”

Last year, BCHD identified a series of public health challenges that could benefit from technology solutions and recruited teams of students, developers, designers, engineers, and others from across Baltimore to tackle specific health challenges or barriers.

Each team conducted a three-month project development phase, in partnership with a local technology hub that provided logistical support and BCHD staff who offered content and community engagement assistance.

Following this process, teams crafted proofs-of-concept that were presented to government leaders, private funders, and the local tech community on Thursday.

“At the Baltimore City Health Department, we are very proud of our extensive track record of pushing the envelope of public health through innovation. At a time when governments are faced with increasingly limited resources, it is commonsense that we work together to solve our shared challenges,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner. “We have long known the power of public-private partnerships to improve health outcomes. TECHealth builds a bridge between city government and the tech and design community so that we can work together to improve health outcomes.”

The seven projects in the initial TECHealth cohort include:

  • Here4Reentry (Housed at Betamore): a resource tool for citizens returning from incarceration.
  • BadBatch (Housed at Code in the Schools): Developing an overdose notification and outreach system.
  • Food Computer School Program (Housed at ETC): Designing a curriculum for an after-school program to use computer-programmed mini greenhouses that can grow produce in different “climates,” teaching Baltimore youth the principles of innovation, product development, and health.
  • Health of the City Dashboard (Housed at Fearless Solutions): Using GIS and data analysis to creat a dashboard and early warning system for critical city health data.
  • Estimating Asthma Burden (Housed at Impact Hub): an effort to use advanced analytics and integrated data to estimate levels of asthma in neighborhoods.
  • Child Fatality Review. (Housed at I3 Center for Healthcare Innovation): A governmental accountability and improvement system for Tracking patient information and tasks from the Child Fatality and Fetal-Infant Mortality Reviews.
  • PH Ambassador System (Housed at NDC): Modernizing civic health engagement and the public health ambassador program through an integrated web portal and digital toolkit.

BCHD will be working with teams to evaluate, test, and potentially implement their prototypes in the coming months.

The Baltimore City Health Department plans to announce the second annual cohort of TECHealth teams during Baltimore Innovation Week in September 2017.

In support of this initiative, Baltimore City’s Bureau of the Budget and Management Research recently established the TECHealth Innovation Fund, a dedicated fund which will make micro-grants up to $25,000 available to teams to support project implementation.

Further support for TECHealth is provided by:

  • The Baltimore Development Corporation
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark
  • Spark

The initiative was shaped by a number of leading technology and design organizations across Baltimore including:

  • Betamore
  • Conscious Venture Lab
  • Emerging Technology Center (ETC)
  • Fastforward
  • Impact Hub
  • I3 Center for Healthcare Innovation
  • Neighborhood Design Center (NDC)
  • Spark

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