NIH issued SBIR Announcement (RFA-EB-10-002) on March 19, 2010 seeking applications from small businesses to develop medical technologies to help reduce disparities in healthcare. The funding is not only for medical technologies but also for imaging and other technologies to help disparity populations.
Appropriate technologies may be new and innovative, or they may be existing technologies that have been redesigned based on the needs of a specific health disparity population. In addition, applications must involve a formal collaboration with a healthcare provider or other healthcare organization.
The estimated amount of funds available to support 7-12 projects is $3.45 million for fiscal year 2011. Future amounts will depend on annual appropriations.
A suggested partial list of appropriate medical technologies includes:
• Telehealth technologies for remote diagnosis and monitoring
• Sensors for point-of-care diagnosis
• Devices for in-home monitoring
• Mobile, portable, diagnostic, and therapeutic systems
• Devices to integrate diagnosis and treatment
• Diagnostics or treatments that do not require special training
• Devices that can operate in low-resource environments
• Non invasive technologies for diagnosis and treatment
• An integrated, automated system to assess or monitor a specific condition
Specific examples can be inexpensive diabetic test strip and/or blood sugar monitoring devices, basic technology to promote self management and patient education, technologies to provide surveillance for chronic diseases, technologies to improve early detection of diseases in areas where there are significant health disparities, and development of low cost portable imaging equipment.
Applications submitted must address one or more of these barriers:
• Physical Barriers—factors such as proximity to healthcare facilities and transportation that may limit access to healthcare
• Knowledge Barriers—health literacy and language barriers that can inhibit health care delivery as well as not provide enough information for the healthcare provider
• Infrastructure Barriers—rural hospitals and community health centers may not have the same resources and expertise as large hospitals and may not be able to afford advanced medical technologies
• Economic Barriers—lack of insurance coverage or financial resources may also contribute to disparities in healthcare access
• Cultural Barriers—religious beliefs and social customs often deter certain populations from seeking healthcare
The technology must provide an improvement over the current quality of care for a health disparity population by overcoming one or more of the barriers. The technology must also be affordable to local hospitals, community health centers, primary care physicians, or to individual patients.
Participating organizations within NIH are NIBIB, NIAMS, NCCAM, NCMHD, and NCRR. Applications are due May 20, 2010 or September 22, 2010. Letters of Intent are due April 20, 2010, or August 22, 2010. Go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-EB-10-002.html for more information.