When it comes to saving lives, knowledge is power – especially in the form of data that tracks diseases. This is why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is developing a new platform for disease surveillance that will leverage robust data collection and information exchange systems.

In a recent HHS blog post, the agency is calling on industry to help modernize the way government tracks notifiable diseases, such as Ebola, measles, or food-borne outbreaks.

According to this FCW article, the goal is to help HHS move from “the static world of health informatics to the world of web standards and technologies used by industry.”

The HHS blog post also discusses how the current system works and why it needs additional support.

Currently, health care providers are required to report the occurrence of over 100 diseases to their state health departments, who in turn send data about these diseases and the circumstances under which they occurred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While this is a laudable system, the current challenge is that local, state, and federal public health agencies are currently exchanging data using legacy systems.

As highlighted by HHS, this new effort – to be driven by an “Entrepreneur in Residence” – is being positioned as an opportunity for a professional who has Silicon Valley-like skills for quickly and effectively solving IT problems.  The opening of the blog post stated this:

Perhaps you’re at a fast-moving tech startup that just had a successful IPO. You’ve had the rush of a great success, and now you’re thinking “What’s the next big thing for me?” You’re wondering what the next challenge that’ll lead you to say, “I can solve that!”

By seeking new talent for enhancing a system that will ultimately save lives, we are naming HHS as this week’s “GovTransformers.” Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of other federal executives and their agencies that are truly transforming how they support mission goals through the most effective use of IT.