University of Southern California Team Wins PQA’s 2021 Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge

Alexandria, Va. (May 24, 2021) – The University of Southern California (USC) has won the fourth annual Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge (HQIC), a national collegiate competition where student teams present technology-enabled solutions to improve healthcare quality. USC was one of three finalists to present a solution to a panel of judges. The winning solution was announced during the online PQA Annual Meeting on May 13.

The winning team of Lesley Chan, Avantika Pathak, Grace Singson, and Zade Hikmat presented “Care Collaborative Information Technology Prescriptions (CCITRx),” a software tool for pharmacies to focus on medication adherence and social determinants of health (SDOH) intervention opportunities. This software combines patient SDOH screenings, referral information, and nonadherence risk information in an integrated workflow solution. 

Virginia Commonwealth University finished second with “myDigitalARC.” Cedarville University was third with “Utilizing the PHQ-2 and GAD-2 to Screen for Mental Health Disorders in the Local Pharmacy.” 

“PQA congratulates the University of Southern California on this incredible achievement,” Micah Cost, PharmD, MS, said. “The Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge provides visibility and recognition for excellence in multidisciplinary approaches and technology-driven solutions to improve care. Innovation will continue to inspire the future for optimized medication use and improved patient care, and PQA appreciates every college for their participation in this year’s challenge.” 

The competition included college teams from across the United States and from different disciplines, including pharmacy, epidemiology, business administration and public health. This year’s competing teams were invited to propose a technology-driven solution to address pandemics, mental health or SDOH. 

Finalists were selected by a review committee representing PQA’s diverse membership. They were scored on the quality of their presentations and ability to answer questions by a panel of judges, who determined the winner. The panel of judges included Josh Benner of RxAnte, Nancy Chung of Pharmacy Quality Solutions (PQS), Lilian Ndehi of Humana, and Clayton Walberg of Aspen RxHealth.

The competition is sponsored by PQS.

“PQS is committed to supporting the development of the next generation of quality professionals,” Todd Sega, PharmD, PQS CEO said. “Engaging students early on helps enable them for success, and HQIC is special in that it encourages collaboration across disciplines. The presentations we saw this year give us confidence the future of pharmacy is bright.”


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Contact: Richard Schmitz, PQA Chief Engagement Officer, [email protected] or 703-347-7931