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The ‘Price is Your Right’ Challenge Launches to Drive Patient Use of Cost Transparency Tools



Two Massachusetts public agencies, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) and the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), along with the Donaghue Foundation, the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, and Freedman HealthCare (FHC) have come together to host the inaugural “Price Is Your Right Transparency Design Challenge.

This fall, the ‘Price Is Your Right’design challenge will harness creative minds to provide prototypes for tools that enable patients to use cost and other relevant information to help them choose a medical provider. The challenge will open October 5that 9pm ET and first round submissions are due by November 7th at 9pm ET.

Everyone is surprised by how much it costs to see a doctor or to get a medical test. Years ago, consumers with insurance paid only a few dollars per visit. Today, it is very different, as patients are expected to pay much more out of their own pocket via copays and deductibles.

The cost of healthcare is the greatest financial concern for Americans, according this Gallup Poll,  and nearly half  have difficulty paying their medical bills. Bipartisan state and federal interests seek to increase price transparency to make it easier for patients to identify lower priced providers. For example, earlier this year, the President issued an Executive Order that includes requirements that health plans release price data.

Unfortunately, it has been hard to find price data and available tools are difficult to use. Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, who has studied such tools noted, “the health care billing system can be overwhelming for patients. We need to make it a lot easier for patients to navigate this system.” Americans could be helped if they had tools to easily identify which providers are lower cost for services such as a doctor’s visit or an MRI.

The vision for the ‘Price Is Your Right’ transparency challenge is for contestants to design a mobile app or website that presents cost data in an easy to use format that allows patients to make better informed decisions about where to get their healthcare. The design challenge invites contestants to show how they would help consumers use actual cost data from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Entrants are encouraged to use this data to help people understand issues outlined in existing research on the subject of healthcare pricing and to leverage other relevant datasets (e.g., CMS Hospital CompareLeapfrog Hospital SurveyAHRQ Patient Safety Indicators). The challenge is seeking designs that:

  • Turn complex data into simple information: Offer an intuitive, easy to use tool to access complex health price information. This is key. Health price data can be complicated and overwhelming. Contestants should distill the information to what is most important.
  • Identify lower cost of care:Make it easy for people to find a lower cost, high quality provider for a given service within their community.
  • Assist consumers in making decisions: Provide other types of information that consumers want when making a decision about where to go for care, such as quality ratings and proximity.

Entrants may decide to focus on a specific population segment or type of service (e.g. pregnant women, orthopedic problems) or include all available data in their design. Entrants are asked to explain who the target audience of their tool is, provide a wireframe design sketch of their tool, and provide a rationale for their design choices.

Following the close of the call for submissions on Thursday, November 7that 9 pm ET, public voting will open on Friday, November 8th, at 9am, at which time contestants can promote their submissions via Twitter to encourage support. Voting will end on Tuesday, November 12th, at 9 p.m. ET and finalists will be announced on Thursday, November 15th.

Finalists selected through the public voting process will be invited to submit a video pitch of their design by Friday, November 29that 9 p.m. ET to compete for cash prizes, including a prize for the Best Student Team ($2,000), Best Professional Team ($2,000), and up to five Honorable Mention prizes at $500 each, including one for the ‘Best Use of Massachusetts Data’. Winners will be announced on Friday December 13th.

“Our objective with the competition is to leverage broader expertise to gain new insights and support a more informed public dialogue about healthcare costs,” said Ray Campbell, Executive Director of CHIA.

“As the Commonwealth’s entity supporting healthcare innovation, technology, and competitiveness, MeHI is excited to partner on this initiative,” added Laurance Stuntz, Director of MeHI. “This challenge builds on our efforts to capture the big data opportunity in healthcare and to make the Commonwealth a global leader in digital health innovation.”

For more information on the Price Is Your Right design challenge, please visit the challenge website at https://priceisyourright.org or email the Challenge Administrator at info@priceisyourright.org.

MedTech Boston Staff

    Abigail Ballou, Alexandra David, Shreya Iyer and Casey Nugent contributed to this story.

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