NIH seeks to create COVID-19 contact tracing app that doesn't compromise privacy 

The National Institutes of Health issued a request for information to companies that can provide recommendations on developing a smartphone app that can both collect COVID-19 information and keep users' data confidential and secure. 

NIH is looking to create a contact tracing tool that monitors the health of individuals who have COVID-19 as well as offer resources such as links to clinical trials for preventive medicines and therapies. The agency also wants the digital tool to assess when users are ready to return to work and calculate infection risk. Google and Apple this month launched their interoperable application programming interface, which is designed to support contact tracing using Bluetooth technology in smartphones. 

The agency also wants to make data collected from the app or tool easily shareable for academic and medical research purposes while still maintaining privacy laws.

NIH wants to add an opt-in feature to the tool for any data collection in order to remain transparent with users. It is also seeking guidance on how to adequately protect personally identifiable health information if collected as well as how to de-identify data for research. 

The agency is looking for a partner that can deploy the technology within four to eight weeks after an initial pilot. Submissions for the ROI are due June 5. 

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