AHRQ Social Determinants of Health Challenge enters second phase

Aug. 20, 2019
Of more than 40 entrants, AHRQ has selected 12 finalists.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Policy (AHRQ) has reached an important milestone in one of its ongoing challenge competitions, reported AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna in a recent blog post, by selecting 12 semifinalists in its Visualization Resources of Community-Level Social Determinants of Health Challenge. 

Social determinants of health are among the many factors that affect people’s well-being, such as education, adequate income, employment opportunities, proximity to healthy food, safe housing, community support, transportation options, social support, and exposure to crime.  Data on social determinants of health may be obtained from diverse sources and in a variety of formats.

Khanna maintains that when combined with more traditional healthcare data, they may help policymakers, public health officials, researchers, advocates, providers of social services, and others better address community health challenges. However, these data often aren’t easily available or available in formats that allow users to act on them.

The challenge—one of three AHRQ challenges currently in process—asked participants to produce innovative online tools to present and encourage the use of free, publicly available social determinants of health data to better understand and predict communities’ unmet healthcare needs.

In particular, challenge participants were asked to develop visualization tools that draw information from at least three or more free, publicly available data sources, whether Federal, State, or local, including voice and digital assistance requests via service lines, such as 911 emergency services, 311 community services, and 211 personal referrals for community services. 

The challenge, launched in March of this year, is structured in two phases. In the just-completed Phase 1, participants submitted concept abstracts and prototype designs of data visualization methods. Of more than 40 entrants, AHRQ has selected 12 finalists. Each will receive $10,000.  The finalists are (in alphabetical order):

·        Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis, MD

·         Beefers, Denver, CO

·         Customer Value Partners, Fairfax, VA

·         Edward Nune, Richmond, VA

·         Emrify Labs, Nashville, TN

·         George Trapaidze, North Potomac, MD

·         IMPAQ International, LLC, Columbia, MD

·         Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

·         Mathematica, Cambridge, MA

·         PCD Consulting, Cambridge, MA

·         Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

·         University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

In Phase 2, the semifinalists will develop proofs-of-concept, which will be judged by an expert panel. One grand prize winner will win $50,000. Up to $35,000 will be awarded to the 2nd place winner, and up to $15,000 will be awarded to the 3rd place winner based on the performance of their visualization tools.