Lyme Innovation and Health Equity:
Data-Driven, Patient-Centered Innovation for Tick-Borne Diseases
Lyme disease is the most common and fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the United States. The CDC estimates that approximately 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year with numbers growing, as climate change exacerbates the problem because ticks that carry the Lyme-causing bacteria are expanding their ranges. This bacterial infection, if untreated, progressively worsens and can debilitate. Lyme disease symptoms vary between patients and are like other illnesses — including Long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) — making diagnosis challenging. Most clinicians diagnose Lyme disease by using laboratory tests combined with information about a patient’s past exposure risk to ticks and symptoms. For patients and clinicians, today’s current state of Lyme disease testing and diagnosis can be frustrating at best, and horrifically life-altering at worst.
The longer one waits to treat Lyme disease, the harder it can be to eradicate. The more complex the patient care, the more expensive. Hence, for the Lyme disease community, access to care and health equity are paramount.
Develop Lyme Innovation solutions by using government data to build digital tools with, by, and for the people.
How can we address Lyme disease, and improve health equity for all tick-borne diseases, using emerging technologies that couple the power of the crowd and patient insights with data?
Potential ideas for exploration
This challenge is intentionally broad. For example, potential products might focus on four things.
- State and Local Data Viz: Lyme disease cases are reported by county and states, yet
policy and budget decisions often happen at the level of U.S.
Congressional districts, so what innovative maps and extrapolation methods
can map case counts to Congressional districts?
- Inclusive Education: Develop Lyme disease
prevention and education tools, including inclusive materials for racial
and ethnic minorities to recognize the Lyme “bullseye” rash (i.e.,
erythema migrans or EM) on all skin types.
- Lyme Disease and COVID-19: Lyme disease is a multisystemic, inflammatory, complex
condition with multiple disease states, including patients with enduring
symptoms after antibiotic treatment where no definitive diagnostics exist
today. Might COVID-19 technologies and insights, including those from the
Long COVID community, be adapted or repurposed for Lyme and tick-borne
Innovation: Transform datasets into novel
insights, decision support, digital tools, data visualizations, or other
innovations to support patients, aid practitioners, or address
socioeconomic and systemic challenges for equitable access to quality
Curated datasets and resources
Government links and information to help get started:
- HHS Lyme Innovation and LymeX
- Social Determinants and Health Equity Resource Guide
- …and many more on HealthData.gov and Data.gov