Innovative e-Health Products Enhance Communication
"When the program started, the products were primarily videos," says Connie Dresser, program director. "Products now include interactive CD-ROMs, Web-based educational and training resources, communication systems, wireless technology products, and radio programs targeted to both consumers and health care professionals.
"The products cover a wide range of topics, with tobacco prevention and cessation products currently taking up a third of the portfolio," Ms. Dresser continues. "All of the products are cancer related, but grantees are encouraged to develop models that can be used for other chronic diseases."
Housed in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), the program has produced about 84 e-health products since 1992, and Ms. Dresser estimates that 60 percent of them have been brought to market. Many products have received awards, including World Wide Web Health Awards, Eddie Awards for Educational Technology, and Technology Games Awards. A video for men diagnosed with prostate cancer aired on PBS-TV and was nominated for an Emmy award.
DCCPS develops categories for SBIR/STTR grant applications annually to address gaps in e-health research. In 2006, the program focused on collaborations with public health professionals to promote positive dietary changes, programs to enhance people's awareness of their responsibility for preventing or managing chronic diseases, systems for capturing family health histories, and wireless technologies for collecting and integrating patient informatics.
"This SBIR program includes requirements designed to offer the best chance for a product's success, including rigorous review and evaluation processes," says Ms. Dresser. "While follow-up of products isn't a requirement, we feel it's important to monitor commercial success after the grant is ended to let grantees and contractors know that NCI expects the companies to succeed."