2016 Innovation Pilot Award Winners Announced

The UNC Health Care and School of Medicine Center for Innovation is pleased to announce winners of the fourth annual Innovation Pilot Awards.

Through a request released last fall, the Center sought proposals from employees for innovations across a spectrum of areas including care delivery, new technology and advanced analytics. Three winners have been chosen out of 19 strong applications received from across UNC Health Care and the School of Medicine. The proposals demonstrated clear dedication to improving care for our patients and strengthening our health care system and many of them promoted increased use of technology in patient care.

The winning teams include: 

Carolina Digital Health Research Initiative: 

PI: Carlton Moore (General Internal Medicine)

Co-PI: Brian Moynihan (Health Sciences Library)

The Carolina Digital Health Research Initiative (CaDHRI) will provide a catalyst for disruptive innovation in digital health research at UNC. The CaDHRI will support digital health researchers through consultations, digital device lending, and events. The program will create a comprehensive digital health device collection housed at the Health Sciences Library. This device collection will be available for researchers to test the devices and applications, as well as, incorporate the devices into their research. In addition to the device collection, the CaDHRI will also host a series of digital health workshops, seminars, and speakers.


Adaptation of the PPD ACT App to Dramatically Enhance Clinical Management of PPD

PI: Samantha Meltzer-Brody (Psychiatry)

Co-PI: Patrick Sullivan (Genetics/Psychiatry)

The team will build upon the success of the recently launched PPD ACT iPhone app which was developed to engage women in a genetics research study about postpartum depression (PPD). The study, which enrolled over 10,000 women in the first month, aims to help researchers understand why some women suffer from PPD and others do not – critical knowledge to help researchers find more effective treatments.

Specifically, the team will enhance the functionality of the pre-existing app by adding innovative, clinically relevant enhancements including the ability to track and display self-reported symptoms and physiological data captured via wearable devices. The app will be able to deliver education about PPD, send participants feedback based on trends in daily assessments, and allow users to participate in a PPD online-community. The team will conduct pilot testing of the app in women with PPD at UNC, and data collected and displayed via the app will be used in the evaluation and delivery of personalized treatment for these patients.


Comparing Strategies to Increase User Engagement with a Contemporary Cognitive Behavioral Skills Application for a Smartphone

PI: Tory Eisenlohr-Moul (Psychiatry)

Co-PI: Chrystal Schiller (Psychiatry)

Co-PI: Eddie Liu (Medical Student)

Traditional face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy has proven effective in training individuals to use cognitive and behavioral skills to prevent or undermine mood symptoms. This team will build and test a novel smartphone application offering computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) aimed to improve an individual’s mood and anxiety symptoms. Incorporating these resources into a smartphone app has the unique potential to dramatically expand access to mental health services.

However, in everyday use, cCBT apps often fail to engage individuals over the long-term; the most common outcome is that users download the app, peruse it once, and then never open it again. Utilizing the newly developed cCBT smartphone app; the team will conduct a study to compare several different methods for increasing user engagement with a cCBT smartphone app.


Thanks to all of the 2016 applicants for their interest and dedication, and congratulations to the winners.

The Center for Innovation is a small resource center that promotes the development of patient-centered innovations designed to address the current challenges facing our nation’s health care delivery system related to cost efficiency, quality of care, innovative health care deliver and alignment of incentives among industry participants. To learn more, visit our webpage at www.med.unc.edu/innovation.