AHRQ Challenge Seeks Innovative Presentations of Community-Level Information on Social Determinants of Health

Press Release Date: March 7, 2019

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced a challenge competition to develop new online tools to present and encourage use of free, publicly available social determinants of health data to better understand and predict communities’ unmet healthcare needs. The total prize pool for the competition is $220,000.

Social determinants of health are among the many factors that affect people’s well-being, such as education, employment opportunities, proximity to healthy food, language proficiency, transportation options, exposure to crime and access to technology. In general, these data come from very diverse sources and often are in a variety of formats, so there is a need to better collect and present the information to improve its usefulness.

When available and used with more traditional types of healthcare data on medical expenditures and healthcare utilization, the analyses of social determinants of health may help policymakers, public health officials, researchers, advocates, providers of social services and others better address community health challenges.

“A deeper understanding of population-level behavior and societal factors is necessary for providing coordinated, whole-person care,” said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A. “This challenge will help fill those gaps in information, a step that is critical to providing person-centered 360-degree care to all populations.”

AHRQ’s Visualization Resources of Community-Level Social Determinants of Health Challenge is the second in a series of Agency competitions to encourage the development of innovative tools to tackle healthcare service delivery problems. The first challenge asked participants to develop an app that would address the need for greater use of standardized patient-reported outcomes data in clinical care and research, thereby bringing the patient’s voice into the care delivery and wellness process.

This challenge is consistent with HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s goal of increasing value-based care by leveraging technology and providing innovative tools to help organizations improve their understanding of factors that contribute to poor quality care and address unmet health service delivery needs.

Evidence suggests that using data on social determinants of health and community services may help AHRQ and others better plan for the use of limited resources, improve population health outcomes and drive savings.

Participants must develop visualization tools that draw information from at least three or more free, publicly available data source, whether federal, state or local. They may include data from voice and digital assistance requests via service lines, such as 911 emergency services, 311 community services and 211 personal referrals for community services. A list of these resources is provided on the AHRQ Challenge Web site.

According to challenge guidelines, these tools must be constructed and presented so that AHRQ can apply them in at least two of the following ways: to develop data linkage, machine learning and modeling studies; to understand how consumers seek and make healthcare decisions; to evaluate community health status; and to predict needs for emergency, hospital and community healthcare services.

The challenge is structured in two phases. In Phase 1, participants will submit concept abstracts and prototype designs of data visualization methods. For Phase 1, up to 12 semifinalists will receive $10,000 each based on the merits of their proposals.

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.

Participants may apply independently or collaborate with others, including health information technology developers, innovators, healthcare providers or others with appropriate expertise. Lessons learned and the challenge’s results will be used to support other efforts in the development of social determinants of health visualization resources at AHRQ.

For more information, visit the Visualization Resources of Community-Level Social Determinants of Health Challenge Web site.


Page last reviewed March 2019
Page originally created March 2019
Internet Citation: AHRQ Challenge Seeks Innovative Presentations of Community-Level Information on Social Determinants of Health. Content last reviewed March 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsroom/press-releases/ahrq-challenge-social-determinants-health.html
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