In part two of this blog series, AHA Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Jay Bhatt, shares some tips for standing out in AHA’s 2019 Innovation Challenge. Applications are due May 24. 

In part one of this blog series, I urged all AHA member hospitals and health systems to consider participating in our 2019 Innovation Challenge. Launched last year, the nationwide competition invites members to tap the creativity of their workforces and brainstorm new, innovative approaches and solutions that improve the health of individuals and communities.

This year, challenge participants are asked to focus on using technology to overcome barriers created by social determinants of health – factors such as unemployment, lack of adequate food and housing, and lack of access to medical care that jeopardize the health of individuals and entire communities. 

There are many reasons to take up AHA’s Innovation Challenge. It offers professional recognition for outstanding work, financial rewards for winners, and most of all, the opportunity to pilot a new idea or approach that moves us closer to the ideal of health equity. 

How to get started? If you are thinking about entering the competition – and I hope you are – here are some tips to guide the creation of your submitted idea:

  • Mix minds for successful problem solving. Consider a cross-disciplinary innovation team made up of hospital leaders, clinicians, designers, business analysts and marketers to create a truly revolutionary idea.
  • Brainstorm. Experiment. Push people’s creativity through positive feedback, encouragement and tolerance.
  • Once you have captured some good ideas, evaluate them against the Innovation Challenge’s criteria listed on our webpage to determine the best fit.
  • When crafting your submission, tell us how you see your idea working in real life. Not too much detail. Just enough information for us to visualize it in use. 
  • Be aware of the major trends impacting health care in 2019. Issues such as the opioid epidemic, the rise of precision medicine or pharmacogenomics, or health care cybersecurity may be promising avenues for new ideas.

You can also hear about last year's winners in this podcast.


The 2019 Innovation Challenge is open to all AHA members. The authors of the top three proposals as determined by judges will receive $100,000, $25,000, and $15,000 respectively to help bring their winning concepts to life. We welcome ideas in the conception, design and early development phase. Launched models are not eligible.   

Member hospitals and health systems – and their partners – must submit ideas by May 24, 2019. Three winners will be announced at the AHA Leadership Summit July 25-27, 2019. 

Please step up and share your ideas so that we can advance health in America. 

Jay Bhatt, D.O. is AHA’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

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