On January 9, ARPA-H launched a new program that aims to completely change the health care paradigm through an incentive-based model.

What if we moved away from a sick care system to one that truly rewards better health? 

That's the question I asked when launching his Health Care Rewards to Achieve Improved Outcomes (HEROES) program at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

Solving a preventable problem

The United States has one of the highest rates of preventable deaths among peer countries, despite substantial spending on health care.

For many Americans, their zip code and income can define their health future. Much of this discrepancy is attributed to a lack of access to preventative care, especially in communities that have long experienced limited access to medicine.

“As we invest in the technologies of tomorrow that have the potential to save us from preventable health challenges, sometimes the financial incentives are not aligned to facilitate adoption of these new capabilities, particularly for individuals in communities that need them most,” noted ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. in the HEROES announcement. 

Creating incentives to reward better health

To completely change the care paradigm, HEROES aims to spur investment in community-level preventative care resources by building an incentive-based model that rewards better health outcomes. 

The HEROES program centers around performers called "Health Accelerators," who can be a variety of groups — from care consortiums to community health centers. 

Here's how it works:

  • Health Accelerators will submit ideas on addressing health challenges in parts of the country where the associated health outcome is worse than the national average. Examples include alcohol-related harms, cardiovascular disease, opioid abuse, and severe obstetric complications.
  • Once awarded, Health Accelerators will have three years to execute their plans and show quantifiable reductions in their targeted health challenge. 
  • If successful, Health Accelerators will receive payments from ARPA-H based on terms agreed upon at the outset of their performance period.

Bringing in long-term payers to ignite a sustainable market

From day one, Health Accelerators will engage investors and organizations with a business stake in improving a targeted health outcome (e.g., employers, insurers, non-profits, or philanthropies). These "outcome buyers" will contribute additional capital to the reward payment to increase the overall incentive.

Through this model, HEROES seeks to make a business case for increasing preventative care resources across communities and, by doing so, aims to ignite a sustainable market that moves us from a sick care system to one that truly rewards better health.

“HEROES is a unique program that will bring together the major players in the health care ecosystem — including insurers, investors, providers, and most importantly, patients — to completely change the health care paradigm so that future innovations will have a better chance to be sustained in the real world," noted Dr. Wegrzyn.

Download the exclusive HEROES poster.

How to engage

HEROES encourages groups central to establishing the program's incentive-based approach, including Health Accelerators, investors, and organizations with a business stake in improving public health, to submit a letter of interest on the HEROES program page.

You can also learn more about the HEROES program in my recent New England Journal of Medicine Perspective. 

Stay up to date on all ARPA-H programs by signing up for the agency's newsletter, ARPA-H Vitals, which helps you keep your finger on the pulse and chart the progress of ARPA-H.

Darshak Sanghavi Headshot
Committee Member

Darshak Sanghavi, M.D.

Program Manager - ARPA-H

Dr. Darshak Sanghavi joined ARPA-H in May 2023 from Babylon – a digital-first, end-to-end health care provider... Read Bio

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