Crowdsourcing Contest Offers $3 Million Prize

Published Aug-01-11

Crowdsourcing competition to radically transform the delivery of health care by cutting the number of preventable hospitalizations, saving the medical industry billions of dollars.

Heritage Provider Network, United States

The Story:

Crowdsourcing Contest Offers $3 Million Prize Crowdsourcing is a now a familiar concept on the open innovation landscape with new competitions and initiatives being launched every week. It is all part of a large trend that is opening up corporations and governments to fresh ideas and insights from online networks and communities. The hope is that by using incentives such as cash prizes talented brains will come to the fore and generate breakthrough ideas.

Multimillion Dollar Prize Competition

In April 2011 Heritage Provider Network (HPN), a medical group in California opened up registration for a $3 million prize competition for a team to devise the best algorithm for predicting which patients are most likely to be admitted to hospitals in the future. The size of the kitty should attract high quality teams, and to help it run the contest HPN has turned to Kaggle, a company that has run a number of crowdsourced predictive modeling competitions.

“Ultimately, this prize will help solve a critical issue facing our country: health care spending,” said HPN President and CEO Richard Merkin, M.D. “It will help make health care more affordable and help to achieve the goals of health care reform.” HPN believes that the Heritage Health Prize is the world’s largest health prize for predictive modeling, larger than the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

The contest will run for two years and during that time there will be six milestone prizes totaling $230,000 which will be awarded at various times.

Financial Costs of Hospitalizations

Once the algorithm has been finalized, the ability to pick which patients are at greatest risk of being admitted to hospital can be used to tailor their treatment programs. This could help them to stay out of hospitals, which is where care is most costly.

The need for innovative thinking is great as health officials consider rising medical costs to be one of the biggest dilemmas of our age. According to a survey from the American Hospital Association more than 71 million people in the United States are admitted to hospitals every year. And other studies have concluded that in 2006 more than $30 billion was spent on unnecessary hospital admissions.

Date Sets

The algorithm will use a pre-defined set of patient data sources to make its predictions. Participants will be given a data set comprising of de-indentified medical records of 100,000 members of HPN. Teams will then need to create an algorithm that will be able to predict how many days a patient will spend in hospital the following year. Submissions will be judged on the accuracy of the predictions, based on predefined prediction accuracy metric.

Ultimately the solution will enable health care providers to be able to develop treatment plans before emergencies occur thereby reducing the number of hospital admissions. According to the organizers of this crowdsourcing competition the solution “will change health care delivery as we know it – from an emphasis on caring for the individual after they get sick to a true health care system”.

Benefits of Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing gives HPN access to a global community of innovators. The concept is built on the concept that two heads are better than one, and thousands of heads are better than two. And although the prize money is colossal, it’s a fraction of the amount of savings a successful solution will bring.

The competition closes on April 4, 2013.

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