Health Data Consortium Announces Code-A-Palooza Challenge


The Health Data Consortium announces a Code-A-Palooza challenge that invites programmers to dig into the hoards of newly released CMS payment data to create apps and visualization tools that would help consumers make more informed decisions about their healthcare.

The challenge is soliciting written proposals through April 25, during which applicants will have to explain the use case and benefits of their idea. Ten finalists will be selected from those that enter and will get free passes to the Health Datapalooza conference as an award. Finalists will have all of May to code their final prototypes, before the June 1 – 3 Health Datapalooza conference, where they will present a live demo of their final product in front of a panel of judges. At the end of the demos, three winners will be chosen. The first place team will receive a $20,000 price. A second place award of $10,000, and a third-place award of $5,000 will also be issued.

The Code-A-Palooza event is being co-sponsored by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator in an effort to recruit programmers willing to take the time to convert the raw CMS data into usable consumer-facing applications. Immediately after its release, early tools began popping up across the internet that allow users to look up how much certain doctors make, which led to the American Medical Association quickly admonishing the decision to publish the data because it could easily be taken out of context.

The hope is that this Code-A-Palooza will lead to the development of more sophisticated and useful consumer tools that would sit on top of the CMS data and help nudge the healthcare industry toward a more consumer-driven market. Event organizers note that payment data holds valuable information that could be combined with quality measures and other publically available datasets to create “tools providing deep insight into geographic variations in procedure costs, regional specializations in procedures, and variation between services performed in the hospital versus the doctor’s office.”

The challenge is one of many coordinated each year by the Health Data Consortium. The organization runs the Health Data Challenges program which partners with vested sponsors from the across healthcare, insurance, and big pharma to fund development contests aimed at promoting innovation in healthcare.

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