The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that great ideas can come from anywhere. With HHSinnovates, the agency is rewarding its own employees for shaping the future of health.

Weight of the Nation

The film series, “The Weight of the Nation,” was one of six innovations to earn awards Tuesday as part of HHSinnovates, a program hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reward health ideas coming from the agency. Photo by Weight of the Nation

“We have incredible talent and creativity within this department, in every agency, every shop,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “We needed to find a way to unlock that talent.”

On Tuesday, HHS awarded prizes of up to $2,500 for staff who submitted winning health ideas — which Sebelius selected — across its intranet site, including:

  • a bodyweight simulator, an online tool created by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases;
  • The Weight of the Nation,” a series of films on obesity awareness by HBO, the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente;
  • a portal system, a tool that links health care clinics, by the Indian Health Service;
  • FDA-iRISK, a tool that examines food safety, by the Food and Drug Administration;
  • an anti-counterfeit device, which screens for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, by FDA; and
  • Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s, which connects researchers with disease victims, by NIH and the Administration for Community Living.

Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s won the “People’s Choice Award,” as the most popular idea among public voters.

HHSinnovates has awarded six rounds of prizes. According to its website, the program has “demonstrated how HHS employees have overcome resource constraints, complicated schedules, and complex organizational dynamics to provide creative, replicable and sustainable innovations that demonstrate outstanding leadership and promising results.”