Company Offers $3 Million for an Algorithm That Predicts Whether You’ll Get Sick

It’s almost as if Heritage Provider Network set out to create the perfect PopSci story by mashing up all of our favorite things: clever algorithms, a multi-million dollar intellectual competition, and the future. The California-based health care provider has put up a purse of $3 million for the person or group who can come up with a predictive algorithm that accurately identifies people at risk for hospitalization in the next year, thus encouraging predictive medical measures and reducing unnecessary hospital stays.

The prize, officially launching on Monday, aims to reduce the $30 billion that was spent on unnecessary hospital admissions in 2006 (The last year data was available? We’re quoting HPN here). To quote HPN further:

The winning Team will create a predictive algorithm that can identify patients who are at risk for hospital admissions. Once known, health care providers can develop new care plans and strategies to reach patients before emergencies occur, thereby reducing the number of unnecessary hospitalizations. This will result in increasing the health of patients while decreasing the cost of care.

It also results in the world’s largest predictive modeling contest that we know of, paying roughly twice the recent payouts for the Nobel Prize in medicine. HPN is also offering progress prizes along the way totaling another $230,000 to help leading contenders continue their research. Each team will be provided with a bunch of de-identified medical records on which to test their models. The first team to devise a working algorithm that achieves the required level of predictive accuracy wins.

The competition is expected to run for two years.

[Heritage Health Prize via Network World]