$10 million prize seeks to transform U.S. healthcare

Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:34pm EDT
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Organizers of the X Prize, who have set up contests for space travel, DNA research and super-efficient cars, said on Tuesday they are offering $10 million to the winner of a contest to transform the health of people in a small U.S. community.

They invited written ideas for the Healthcare X Prize, and said they would choose five for a three-year trial run in real communities or at employers.

The winner would be chosen based on a "community health index" of measures such as an improved ability to climb stairs, reductions in visits to emergency rooms and health costs.

"We need to show that the innovation works and then that the innovation is scalable. It's going to be a public solution," Angela Braly, president and chief executive officer of WellPoint Inc, a major U.S. health insurer that is helping sponsor the prize, told a news conference.

"We are looking for teams to help individuals and communities proactively improve their own health and (that) of their families," added Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive of the non-profit X Prize Foundation.

"Teams are actually going to have to design and implement a system across a community of 10,000 people that improves health by 50 percent during a three-year trial period."

The competition and all results will be audited by an independent panel of judges and "trusted third parties," the group said in offering the prize plan for a 45-day public comment period.

"The Smithsonian would never have funded the Wright Brothers to invent the airplane," said Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who now helps head up the Center for Health Transformation.

"I think this will bring diversity."   Continued...

 
<p>A doctor examines a child in a kindergarten class, May 7, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer</p>