AHRQ Challenge Competitions: The Entrepreneurial Spirit at Work

By Gopal Khanna, M.B.A., Director of AHRQ
Twitter: @AHRQNews

Recently in his State of the Department speech, HHS Secretary Alex Azar talked about the importance of using markets to put patients at the center of healthcare to deliver more affordable care and better health for every American.

This is a goal—and a strategy to accomplish it—that I have long supported. AHRQ is committed to a healthcare system that consistently delivers the 21st century care that patients need and deserve. And, like Secretary Azar, we are energized by the potential of entrepreneurs and the private sector to achieve that system.

Entrepreneurial innovation is the philosophy behind AHRQ’s Challenge competitions. This week, I was proud to not only announce the winner of AHRQ’s Social Determinants of Health Visualization Challenge, but also to announce a new challenge on digital solutions to support transitions in care.

First, the Social Determinants of Health Visualization Challenge. My heartiest congratulations to Mathematica, which took the grand prize—and with it a $50,000 award—for its “Community Connector” tool.

Mathematica’s Community Connector inspires us to think about the best ways to share multiple and complex data streams with communities and policymakers. Their work will help AHRQ and other data innovators think not only about how we conduct data analysis, but also about how we present data and findings to help patients, family members, and healthcare professionals make informed decisions and ask better questions. AHRQ plans to use the work of all of the finalists to inspire us as we consider how to improve the way we make our datasets and analysis available to the public.

The visualization challenge focused on how to share community-level data on the social determinants of health—factors that affect people’s wellbeing, such as education, employment, and access to healthcare—along with health outcomes to communities. Mathematica’s solution presents data in a way that fosters collaboration between counties to assist with things like peer-to-peer learning, sharing of best practices, and effective interventions. We hope that innovation in data visualization will go a long way in putting patients at the center of healthcare by making it easier to identify the social factors and needs that impact health.

I was also pleased to announce that Salish Research Group as the runner-up and recipient of a $35,000 prize, while Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute took third place and will receive $15,000. As with all of our Challenges, our hope is that we have energized the entrepreneurs in the field to consider new ways of benefiting the American public.

Building on the success of the Visualization Challenge, AHRQ is announcing a new $175,000 challenge that seeks personalized, data-driven, interoperable digital health technologies that engage patients and family caregivers during transitions from inpatient hospital care to the patient’s home. The transitions competition seeks solutions that meet two essential objectives:

  • Ease administrative and information management burdens on patients, families, and healthcare professionals.
  • Support patient activation and engagement—especially among Americans that may have low health literacy or limited English language proficiency.

Submissions are due by April 6, 2020. Applications can be submitted at www.Challenge.gov or at AHRQ’s Digital Solutions to Support Care Transitions Challenge website.

These challenge competitions are integral to our vision for AHRQ as the agency expands its leadership in national efforts to advance digital healthcare. They are part of our ongoing work to establish an integrated data, analytics, and information platform with the substantive and technical expertise needed to capture a 360-degree view of the healthcare system.

And we recognize the power of incentives within markets to get there. Together, we are dedicated to creating a healthcare system that leverages data to its fullest capabilities in new ways to deliver healthcare that is safe, of high quality, patient centered, and focused on delivering value to all Americans.

So, our heartiest congratulations to Mathematica, Salish, and RPI; may your work lead us to greater things. And thank you in advance to the digital innovators who are about to help AHRQ improve care for people living with multiple chronic conditions. Through data, technology, and innovation, together we can build a 21st century care delivery system.

This article was originally published on AHRQ Views Blog and is republished here with permission.