Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces Semi-finalists

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced the five semi-finalists in the Aligning Forces Challenge: AHEAD Research, Flexis, Vitality, iHealth Ventures and Ringful.  The announcement coincides with the launch of the Challenge’s second phase, in which teams will further develop their solutions for assessment and evaluation of real-world impact.

The RWJF Aligning Forces Challenge launched on October 28, 2011 and asked competing developers to create applications that provide consumers access to comparative quality care metrics across the country. The applications were required to pool data from Aligning Forces for Quality, the Foundation’s signature effort to improve the quality of health care in 16 targeted communities nationwide.  The Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Humboldt, Kansas City, Memphis, Minnesota, South Central Pennsylvania and Wisconsin communities made their data available for application integration, utilization and optimization.

“We are very excited about the Phase I results,” said Michael W. Painter, J.D., M.D. and senior program officer at RWJF.   “On a small scale, the competing teams participated in seed efforts to transform health care.  All of the semi-finalist teams created applications designed to help patients and consumers with their health care decision making. All of these apps attempt to present complicated information in smart ways to guide, assist and enhance that decision making. We look forward to Phase II of the challenge as the teams refine these new interesting tools.”

The Challenge saw a record number of entrants (55) and a high number of final submissions (19).  From the pool of submissions, the five semi-finalists were selected to participate in the second phase.  In the second phase, the teams will work closely with the Aligning Forces communities to refine their applications.  The following is a brief summary of the semi-finalists’ applications:

AHEAD Research – submitted by Craig Monsen and David Do – the Symcat application is an intuitive web and Android (and soon to be iPhone/iPad) symptoms to solutions guide.  Using Symcat, individuals can enter their symptoms/demographics/medical history, read about probable diagnoses and subsequently use relevant AF4Q ratings to find providers.  Symcat sports a sleek interface, an extensive symptom vocabulary, intelligent and dynamic question generation, machine learning to calculate probable diagnoses, trusted medical information from MedlinePlus and AHRQ and personalized ratings of medical facilities from RWJF Aligning Forces communities. The application improves care quality by providing personalized medical information for early treatment and enhanced diagnosis, extends its impact by prioritizing medical facilities with high ratings and uniquely aggregates patient data to learn new symptom-disease associations and make recommendations based on need.

Flexis – submitted by Andy Kogelnik and Kenneth Ng – the VoIDSPAN application is a practical cloud-based mobile solution that bridges the quality information gap between patients and the health care system and engages care through an integrated voice, SMS and web platform.  The application allows for patient registration, patient target setting and personalized look up by quality and geographical goals.  Patients can find doctors with the highest ratings for their specific health issues, rate their physicians, find details about caregiver sites and receive directions to those sites.

Vitality – submitted by Erika Boyer and Mitch Rothschild – the application is a user friendly Hospital Choice Tool that provides patients with a sense of relative quality and is simplified for their understanding, evolves the Tool to a national data-standardized level and makes it accessible to the public, resulting in a broad-based and enhanced healthcare decision making.  The Tool combines RWJF Aligning Forces data and Vitals data and is based on behavioral analysis of one hundred million users.  The application affords patients a sense of relative quality by displaying the data that most interests patients. The population analytics come from the standard import template that smoothens the data between the various sources.

iHealth Ventures – submitted by Sonal Kumar – the application is an easy to use web and mobile solutions that help patients in the decision making process of choosing providers and helps providers and administrators improve quality of care by identifying areas in need of amelioration.  Based on their specific needs and criteria, patients can search for and find high quality clinics using visual representations of quality scores, a five-star comparison rating tool and search percent matches.  Administrators looking for quality trends can view density maps and zone in on scored regions indicating scores with respect to averages.  The last feature is a comprehensive dashboard that delineates comparative hospital performance.

Ringful – Submitted by Michael Yuan and Doris Peter – the application is a simple decision support for hospitalized patients tool.  Its core features include patient screens by conditions and procedures, hospital stay analysis, relative patient outcomes reporting, recommended actions based on outcomes measures (including post-surgery check lists, discharge planning tools and medication education / reconciliation tools) and educational content based on outcomes measures. Outcomes data results in personalized decision making and ultimately, an improved system of patient-physician engagement.

At the conclusion of the second phase, a review panel will select three winning teams.  The first place team will receive $100,000 and a lunch with RWJF president and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the second place winner will receive $25,000 and the third place winner will receive $5,000.

Winners will be announced in June 2012. Developers can learn more about the challenge and track its progress here. Many thanks to all participating teams, congratulations to the semi-finalists and best of luck in the second phase.