Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

DerShung Yang, Ph.D.

"BrightOutcome is a proud participant of both the NIH SBIR Niche Assessment Program and the Commercialization Assistance Program, which helped our company identify new market segments and strategically pivot to work with instead of against our competitor."

– DerShung Yang, Ph.D., Founder and President of BrightOutcome Inc.

Founded in 2002, BrightOutcome Inc.exit disclaimer icon is an innovative health information technology (IT) company that develops software that incorporates patient-reported outcomes (PRO) to produce better and brighter outcomes in healthcare. The goals of the company are to: measure the health status and needs of individuals; inform clinical decisions to deliver individualized care; and empower patients and healthcare consumers to promote self-efficacy and independence.

PRO questionnaires are often used in a clinical setting to measure what patients are able to do and how they feel by asking them questions. Clinicians and researchers can use PRO questionnaires to design treatment plans and assess the effectiveness of a treatment in a clinical study.

Effectively Pivoting BrightOutcome’s Strategic Direction with the Help of the NIH CAP
With the increasing focus on the importance of electronic medical records, Dr. DerShung Yang started BrightOutcome Inc. in 2002 to design electronic PRO questionnaires. He received NIH SBIR Phase I and Phase II funding to help develop PRO software to be used in clinical and research practices. BrightOutcomes is a socially and economically disadvantaged small business that currently has six full-time employees and about a dozen part-time contractors.

After participating in NIH’s SBIR/STTR Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP), Yang shifted the strategic direction of his company to work collaboratively with, instead of against, his competitor PROMIS® (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System), who is the leader in developing the next generation of highly reliable and adaptive measures of PRO. As a result of the connections he made in the NIH CAP, Yang formed a strategic partnership with Northwestern University, which is the Statistical and Technical Center of PROMIS. "By working with Northwestern, we were able to incorporate PROMIS® questionnaires into all BrightOutcome products," says Yang.

Bright Outcomes was also introduced to City of Hopeexit disclaimer iconwho became a partner for using the questionnaires with their clients. The company is also pursuing discussions with the Healthcare Foundation of Californiaexit disclaimer icon. Overall, says Yang, "the SBIR funding was a seed that truly supported the growth of our company as well as served as an idea generation that allowed our team to pursue other commercial opportunities that contributed to our future successes."

Developing the Product Pipeline

BrightOutcome has three lead productsexit disclaimer iconthat were supported by early-stage NIH SBIR funding. These IT products take the scientific rigor used in clinical trials to evaluate PRO, and extend these practices into real clinical settings to improve symptom management of cancer treatment in medical facilities and cancer research.

ePROmeasure™ is a mobile-friendly, prepaid subscription-based software that helps clinicians collect, store, and report ePRO information.

The software offers researchers a library of hundreds of ready-to-use PROs, including PROMIS® questionnaires, allowing them to choose which patient-reported outcomes they would like to track in clinical studies. One of ePROmeasure™’s distinguishing features is that the software can fully administer and score the latest "adaptive" item response theory (IRT) and Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) measures from PROMIS®. The products is expected to launch in Fall 2014.

MyCaringCircle™ focuses on meeting the medical and social needs and concerns of cancer patients, and provides patients with a secure place to report and track symptoms; connect to local cancer-related events and classes; communicate with friends and family; access other support resources in social media; and obtain trusted educational materials.

SymptomCareAnywhere™ is a Web-based system that has been incorporated into MyCaringCircle™ and is also a stand-alone product for symptom management. Cancer patients report their symptoms on the Web or via touchtone phones and then receive tailored educational contents most relevant to the reported symptoms. The system tracks approximately 15 common symptoms of cancer treatment using ePRO questionnaires, and healthcare providers receive email or pager alerts for moderate to severe reported symptoms.

Both MyCaringCircle™ and SymptomCareAnywhere™ are currently being used in research trials and are the foundation of several custom application projects for other organizations. BrightOutcomes expects to launch both products for general public use in early 2015.

BrightOutcome Notable Achievements

Today the company generates revenue in two primary ways: a subscription service model that targets medical centers, hospitals and universities who would like to use the technology in their organizations, and an advertisement model for the public versions of their software.


ePROmeasure™ is used by clinicians for electronic administration of PRO questionnaires.

Caring Circle web page image

Product images of MyCaringCircle™ and SymptomCareAnywhere™

symtommgmt web page image


Fifteen percent of BrightOutcome’s profits comes from direct sales through contracts with university or clinical center clients.

The company has also successfully secured funding from over 15 grants and contracts from NIH and CDC, including Phase I and Phase II awards from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BrightOutcomes has also collaborated with over a dozen top-ranked academic institutions and patient care organizations in implementing electronic PRO questionnaires. The future looks bright for this small business as it continues to grow its client base through additional projects and contractual arrangements.


Company Awards/Honors: ARRA Challenge Grant, 2009 - Best Poster Award, ISOQOL 2011

Company Website: disclaimer icon

Address: Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Press contact (for questions): Niina Haas, Director of Research Operations


Information for this success story was gathered through an interview that was conducted by Dr. Lenka Fedorkova, the NIH SBIR/STTR Program Manager and Betty Royster, the NIH SBIR/STTR Communications Coordinator.