AHRQ stages competition to unlock benefits of data analytics

The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) launched a competition to explore how predictive data analytics could help forecast future trends in healthcare spending.


The challenge requires applicants to employ predictive analytics — statistical techniques used to analyze and learn from data pools to predict future events — to estimate hospital inpatient utilization for selected counties in the U.S.

AHRQ said it would provide applicants with access to specific datasets with information on hospital inpatient discharges from 2011 to 2016.

The contest page also noted participants could supplement their access to AHRQ data by using free, publicly available data sources, for example the Area Health Resources File (AHRF) and data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Developers will also have to provide the predicted values of the number of hospital inpatient discharges and the average length of stay for selected U.S. counties in 2016.

Submissions will be evaluated based on reliability and validity — reliability is assessed by how closely the model or method deployed predicts the actual utilization rates for 2017, while validity is assessed by how well the model performs on earlier years of data.

The timeline for the challenge is March 27 to June 28 of this year, and the recipients will be selected by July 31, with the first place winner receiving $100,000, while second place will be awarded $75,000 and $50,000 for third place.


“Healthcare decision makers need better access to estimates that define current and future healthcare issues,” Gopal Khanna, director of AHRQ, said in a statement. “AHRQ’s challenge competition will help demonstrate how predictive analytics can use existing data to provide those kinds of estimates and make new resources available for real-time decisions about policies and use of healthcare resources.”

Participants are encouraged to apply independently or team with others, including health services and social science researchers, health IT developers, healthcare providers, and others.

There will also be an orientation webinar early in April to offer potential participants an overview, and give them an opportunity to ask questions about the expectations for the challenge.

“We are very excited to reach new audiences with this challenge such as the social science and technical innovator communities,” Khanna continued. “These are audiences not traditionally associated with AHRQ, and I encourage all teams to expand their research horizons and find unique ways to use social determinants of health data in their submissions.”

The “Bringing Predictive Analytics to Healthcare Challenge” competition is the third in an AHRQ series to encourage the development of innovative tools to tackle healthcare problems.


Earlier this week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a contest to speed the development of artificial intelligence technologies designed to better predict health outcomes and boost quality of care.

The three stage Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes competition, held in partnership with American Academy of Family Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, will award as much as $1.65 million to participants during Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.

Email the writer: [email protected]

Twitter: @dropdeaded209 

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication. 

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