The last week has seen the announcement of numerous health innovation challenges hosted by a variety of public and private sponsors each offering very attractive awards for developers.

Many of the challenges profiled below were announced at the Care Innovations Summit hosted by the West Wireless Health Initiative, CMS and Health Policy in Washington DC to explore ideas for reducing the cost of providing health care in America.

Farzad Mostashari M.D., ScM, National Coordinator for HIT, announced at the Care Innovation Summit a second DHHS sponsored challenge focused on tackling the challenge of hospital re-admissions. The “Discharge Follow Up Care Transitions” challenge will be supported by the ONC’s “Investing in Innovation” (i2) program.  The goal is to schedule follow-up appointments and post-discharge testing for patients who leave the hospital to ensure safer and more effective transitions. The total prize will be $5,000 and will include a three day site visit to a pilot community. The deadline to submit for the challenge is April 30, 2012.

The first ONC-sponsored developer contest was the “Ensuring Safe Transitions” challenge which was won by Axial Exchange, who was awarded $25,000.

The Alzheimer’s Challenge 2012, sponsored by Pfizer, seeks simple, cost-effective, consistent tools that could be easily used to assess memory, mood, thinking and activity level over time to help improve diagnosis and monitoring of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The challenge includes awards totaling $300,000, including $25,000 to five finalists and $175,000 to one winner. The deadline for submission is March 16, with five finalists chosen by April 16. The winner of the challenge will be announced at the end of June 2012.


The AllScripts Million Hearts Initiative Clinical Decision Support Challenge offers a $50,000 prize to the person or group that creates a publicly available resource that accelerates the delivery of optimal care for the millions of patients in the United States with cardiovascular disease through clinical decision support functionality. At a minimum, the winning solution will include a publicly accessible website or service providing the following four features:

  1. Unambiguous prose expressions of clinical guidelines that support each of the core components of the Million Hearts initiative: ABCS: Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation
  2. Available download of unambiguous prose expressions of EHR-based CDS interventions aligned with the clinical guidelines described in (1) above
  3. Available download of logical, computable (XML) expressions of EHR-based CDS interventions aligned with the clinical guidelines described in (1) above
  4. Available download of comprehensive value sets that provide coded values for each of the data elements referenced in the XML-based interventions described above.

The goal of the challenge is to make important elements of the winning solution available to the community and other EHR developers under an open source license to help support the goals of the Million Hearts Initiative.

The Janssen Connected Care Challenge begins February 27, 2012 and is offering $250,000 in total awards for approaches that will improve the patient’s transition from hospital to home. The challenge is designed to spur innovation and drive action towards achieving better care and better health at lower cost through continuous improvement.

Members of the Janssen Healthcare Innovation team will provide the three finalists with $50,000 each, as well as mentorship and support to further advance commercial development of the best ideas. The three finalists will take part in a Demo Day to describe their solution before the judges and via a live webcast. The winner will be announced and awarded $100,000 on May 23, 2012.

Sanofi-Aventis has announced the 2012 DataDesignDiabetes Challenge and they are asking for the input of the public to help design the competition. I covered the 2011 DataDesignDiabetes Challenge extensively and had a chance to interview Anmol Madan, co-founder of 2011 challenge winner Ginger.io at the mHealth Summit.

The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is launching the “Innovation 4 Healthcare Challenge” for students nationwide to develop solutions that radically improve healthcare outcomes by using information technology to improve patient engagement with health care providers. The challenge will be led by the Smith School’s Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) and will culminate in an April 20, 2012 final round of presentations. Teams of as many as five members will compete for a $20,000 first prize and a pair of $5,000 runner-up prizes. The contest is supported by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc.

WIMM Labs, developer of the WIMM One wearable computing platform, is currently hosting a developer challenge for micro-apps focused on the health and fitness market.  All developers who submit a novel, sophisticated, stable app with a thoughtful UI will receive a free WIMM One device ($199 value) and the creators of the two best apps will receive $250 Amazon gift cards. The deadline for submitting a micro-app to the competition is February 5, 2012. A winning micro-app will above all else take a complicated problem and sophisticated features and make them seem simple, available at a glance.