Answer to healthcare's million dollar question could snag $2M in rewards

Answer to healthcare's million dollar question could snag $2M in rewardsPhoto used with permission from

The Knight Foundation is levying its lance alongside a quartet of healthcare's heavy hitters to spur new ideas to harness healthcare data technology for community health.

The Miami-based media conglomerate is launching a health innovation contest with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Clinton Foundation and Health Data Consortium. The contest challenges participants to answer the question, "How might we harness data and information for the health of communities?"

The right answer could be worth up to $2 million.

Knight officials said they'll be looking for ideas that, for example, make use of large public datasets, help inform healthcare consumers, leverage personal behavioral data or inform local health policy.

mHealth tools and concepts should play a role in many of the proposals. In offering examples of innovative projects that have targeted community health concerns, Knight officials mentioned a ProPublica app that details pharmaceutical payments to individual physicians and Asthmapolis, whose mHealth platform pulls in a number of asthma triggers to compare against user symptoms.

“Health is an area where journalism, open data and public information overlap, giving us a direct, tangible opportunity to help people learn more and make smart choices through the use of technology and data,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation, in a press release.

The challenge will launch on Aug. 19 with an "inspiration" phase, during which participants can identify needs, share success stories, post data sets and contribute ideas at Entries will be accepted from Sept. 3-17.

Each of the participating organizations, who will help with outreach and review the entries, weighed in on the importance of the challenge in the press release.

"Today, we have unprecedented amounts of data, yet we're only scratching the surface of its potential," said Paul Tarini, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Through this collaboration, we hope more people and more communities will come to understand how to harness data to help us live healthier lives and get the care we need."

"To improve the health of all Americans we need to get meaningful data into the hands of consumers and local policymakers," said Andy Krackov, senior program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation. "The Knight News Challenge, which taps into the 'wisdom of crowds,' can not only act as a catalyst here, it could spur greater transparency around how healthcare is delivered."

“The Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s partnership with the Knight Foundation aims to leverage health data, technology and innovation to provide more Americans with more effective tools to lead healthier lives," said Ginny Ehrlich, chief executive officer of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

"Unshackling health data will improve health and healthcare in myriad ways. The benefits include more effective treatments, better informed patients and physicians, lower costs and even improved accessibility to health services,” said Dwayne Spradlin, chief executive officer of Health Data Consortium. “We are proud to team up with these foundations to inspire bold and creative ideas to extend that impact into our communities."