The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. The NIH invests nearly $39.2* billion annually in medical research.
The National Institutes of Health
Health & Human Services
Our Vendor partner, Axle Informatics, had staffed a project for NIH but could not find a senior MS Dynamics architect to provide solutions and lead design efforts. They reached out to us for assistance, and we were able to provide a fully qualified candidate.
NIH needed to build an electronic approval system for the allocation of budgets for R&D to find a cure for opioid addiction. The existing legacy process was manual, requiring applicants (universities and medical startups) to send proposals via e-mail. E-mails received were reviewed by scientists, who coordinated with appropriate departments. They would then need to begin a manual, time-consuming research/evaluation process to verify authenticity, followed by phone meetings, and ultimately decide on the allocation of funds. This process typically took three to four months, and NIH wanted to shorten turnaround time and eliminate unnecessary manual efforts.
The solution proposed was to build a case management application that would digitize the paper/e-mail interaction process. Our architect worked with a scientist to capture the manual process details. Leveraging the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement module, he provided the architecture for and ultimately developed a case management application that included front-end UI and integrated Dynamics 365 CE with Outlook.
This allowed for instant case/proposal creation for proposals received by e-mail and allowed for tracking at any stage. This simplified internal NIH department interaction by facilitating a medium for the evaluation and scrumming of proposals. This application provided a platform for internal communication and for data collection from proposal writers along with the facility to offer updates to applicants.
The application and review process timeline was reduced from three to four months to two to three weeks. This new system also automated the evaluation process by capturing data from external systems. Automation of auditing and reporting to higher environments was put into place. The development team also created a secondary system/child application based on the one provided for automating the approval process for the funding of research. Other groups with similar challenges adopted this solution, saving additional time and money.
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