AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
AHRQ Social Determinants of Health Challenge Enters Exciting Second Phase!
I am excited to announce that AHRQ has reached an important milestone in one of its ongoing challenge competitions. We’ve selected 12 semifinalists in our Visualization Resources of Community-Level Social Determinants of Health Challenge.
We understand that medical care alone is insufficient for ensuring better health outcomes. And, indeed, HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted in a speech earlier this year that we need to develop strategies to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. A key component of realizing that vision is for us to reimagine how evidence-based research can help provide tools to improve delivery of whole person-oriented care in an age that is increasingly defined by data.
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.
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.
That’s why this challenge is integral to our vision that AHRQ continue and expand its lead role in national efforts to advance digital healthcare. My colleagues and I at AHRQ are committed to finding new, cutting-edge strategies to improve patient care through broader use of data.
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
- Customer Value Partners
- Edward Nunes
- Emrify Labs
- George Trapaidze
North Potomac, MD
- IMPAQ International, LLC
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- PCD Consulting
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- University of Minnesota
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.
The creativity and innovative thinking shown by the competitors has been inspiring. Their efforts will ultimately help the healthcare system get a deeper understanding of population-level behavior and the societal factors that must be considered when providing coordinated, whole-person care. Congratulations to the winners of Phase 1. We are eager to see what the next phase brings!
Gopal Khanna is the Director of AHRQ.