Frequently Asked Questions
For a quick overview of the challenge, see this Slide Deck!
Q1. What are contestants expected to create?
This design challenge seeks to engage creative minds to translate available healthcare cost data into a more user friendly and helpful format. Using actual data from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we invite you to show how you would help consumers use this valuable information.
We challenge you to design a mobile app or website that provides people with a way to obtain cost estimates and other pertinent information that would help them to decide where and to whom to go to for a medical service. You get to choose who the target audience is and to decide what information they would want when shopping for care! We ask that you share your ideas with us in the form of a wireframe and a short design brief. Contestants do not have to provide any code. Selected finalists will also be asked to submit a recorded ‘pitch’ of their proposed design.
Q2. What’s the goal?
The goals of this challenge are to promote public awareness about health cost variation, and to crowd-source creative solutions for increasing price transparency and well-designed smart shopper tools for healthcare. The data exists, so how can it be best put to use? We want to hear your ideas! Your design will be posted to the challenge website and could serve as a useful prototype for states that are looking to build out price transparency tools for public use.
Q3. Who is the target audience?
Everyday patients and consumers of healthcare.
Q4. Why should we care about the price of health care?
The cost of health care is now the greatest financial concern for Americans and almost half have difficulty paying their out-of-pocket medical costs. These Americans could be helped if they had the tools to easily identify which providers are less expensive for simple office visits and diagnostic tests.
October is international Health Literacy Month, which is a time dedicated to the importance of making health information easy to understand and access. Find out more about how the Office of Disease Prevention and health Promotion is improving health literacy here.
Additionally, the president issued an Executive Order earlier this year calling for increased transparency of quality and price information, hoping to help consumers make more informed decisions about their healthcare. You can find out more about this executive order and it’s implications in this Health Affairs article or find out how some presidential candidates will handle price transparency in this Health Affairs article.
To learn more about the importance of price transparency, visit the New England Journal of Medicine’s Defining the Goals of Health Care Price Transparency: Not Just Shopping Around, Health Services Research Journal’s Presenting Cost and Efficiency Measures that Support Consumers to Make High-Value Health Care Choices, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation piece on How Price Transparency Can Control the Cost of Health Care.
Q5. Who’s hosting this challenge?
This challenge is sponsored by the following organizations:
Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis
CHIA, established in 2012, is an independent state agency charged with monitoring the performance of the Massachusetts health care system. CHIA’s mission is to be the agency of record for Massachusetts health care information, to responsibly steward sensitive and confidential data, and to objectively report reliable and meaningful information about the health care quality, affordability, utilization, access, and outcomes. Our vision is a transparent health care system where reliable information provides common ground for improvement and empowers people and organizations to make informed decisions.
The Donaghue Foundation’s purpose is funding research that would promote knowledge of practical benefit to improve health. While there are many types of research, and some research is intended to create knowledge for which the ultimate benefit is distant or still unknown, the foundation believes the path to creating benefit starts with the research design itself and doesn’t wait until after the research is completed. This means encouraging partnerships between researchers, entrepreneurs, and health care providers; using experts in using new knowledge along with experts in creating new knowledge to evaluate funding proposals; and being open to innovations from other fields.
After two decades of working with researchers, their institutions, and other organizations focused on health, the foundation has learned that when the research question and the design of its methods are framed with the ultimate user innovation in mind, it’s more likely to be relevant and ready for that use.
Massachusetts eHealth Institute
MeHI is the Commonwealth’s entity for health care innovation, technology, and competitiveness, and partners with industry, government, and healthcare organizations to support the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative on behalf of Governor Charlie Baker. MeHI also helps the Commonwealth’s providers harness the benefits of electronic health records and the Mass HIway, the statewide health information exchange. As part of this effort, MeHI works with stakeholders to ensure that patients have access to their data and become active and engaged participants in managing their health. Launched in 2016 by Governor Baker and the Commonwealth’s business and healthcare leaders, one of the Digital Health Initiative’s focus areas is to “partner with state agencies to better capture the ‘big data’ opportunity in healthcare,” which the new data challenge addresses.
Harvard Medical School
Since Harvard Medical School was established in 1782, faculty members have improved human health by innovating in their roles as physicians, mentors and scholars. They’ve piloted educational models, developed new curricula to address emerging needs in health care, and produced thousands of leaders and compassionate caregivers who are shaping the fields of science and medicine throughout the world with their expertise and passion. With its vast reservoir of talent, extensive network of affiliates and commitment to problem solving, Harvard Medical School is uniquely positioned to steer education and research in directions that will benefit local, national and global communities.
Established in 2005, FHC is a national consulting firm that helps clients to put health data to work to solve complex problems. FHC is the leader in All Payer Claims Databases (APCDs). In over 20 states and across the political spectrum, we have helped plan, manage, and implement multi-payer claims databases. FHC also supports quality and cost measurement, performance improvement, price transparency, policy analysis, payment reform, value-based insurance design, and consumer engagement.
Q6. Do I have to pay a fee to register for this challenge, to download the data, or to submit an entry?
No. There are no fees associated with this challenge.
Healthcare ‘Shopper’ Tools
Q7. Can you point me to some existing healthcare price transparency tools?
Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington state governments are leading the way in publishing this information on publicly accessible websites. There are also a number of non-government sponsored tools such as Guroo and Healthcare Bluebook.
Many of these websites, while well-intentioned, can be difficult to use. Some sites bury health plan data deep inside password protected portals, some do not layout out information in a user-friendly way, and others only provide cost estimates at the state level instead of the local level. Consumers need intuitive, flexible tools that allow them to access the information they need in an easy and fast manner.
Q8. Where does this data come from?
Contestants have access to two different datasets. One is provided by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) and the other is provided by the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID).
Q9. What’s in the data?
The Massachusetts and New Hampshire cost data are available in spreadsheet format and contain information on the medical service name, medical service code and price; the name and location of the medical provider. These data are public, available without restriction and do not contain protected health information.
Q10. Where can the data be accessed?
The Massachusetts and New Hampshire cost data tables and user guides can be downloaded from the links below:
- New Hampshire Data:
- Massachusetts Data:
Q11. How is ‘cost’ defined?
The ‘cost’ amount is based on the rate negotiated between health care providers and insurance companies, not the provider charges or ‘retail value’ of the health care service. The negotiated amount is often referred to as the ‘allowed amount.’ This represents the total amount that a patient and his/her insurer will pay to a given provider for a specific medical service or procedure.
Q12. What are other datasets that I should consider?
Q13. Can I compete if I’m a part-time student?
Yes! Full-time, part-time, and non-students are all welcome to participate in this challenge.
Q14. Can student teams ask for help from a faculty member?
We encourage all challenge participants to do some research. This means looking at existing consumer websites, digging into peer-reviewed articles, asking your friends what they think, and consulting experts in the field. Feel free to ask your faculty for advice or guidance. Faculty can help steer you in the right direction with probing questions, by guiding you to useful resources, or by helping you to think through the questions included in the design brief template. However, faculty should abstain from building any part of the team’s wireframe or writing any portion of the design brief.
Q15. Can a team have both students and professionals?
Most certainly. Teams consisting of students and non-students will be assessed as a Professional team.
Selection of Winners
Q16. How many winners are chosen?
Two winners will be selected – one Professional team and one Student team. Honorable Mentions in both entrant categories may also be awarded. Up to five Honorable mention awards and prizes at $500 each will be granted at the Judges’ discretion.
Q17. How are winners selected?
Public vote: The public will have an opportunity to evaluate all entries and submit a vote for their favorite entries via the challenge website. The public can demonstrate their appreciation for an entry via a “Like” and/or a retweet containing the entry’s stated hashtag and the contest hashtag, #PriceIsYourRight. Please share and invite your colleagues, friends, and family to vote! An individual can vote for each entry once. Multiple votes by the same person, votes using fraudulent or false social media profiles, votes by bots or other automated means or any other fraudulent activity can be grounds for disqualification.
Judge evaluation: There will be two rounds of judging. See Evaluation Criteria for additional details.
Q18. Do selected finalists have to submit a recorded ‘pitch’ for their proposed mobile app or website?
Yes. If selected teams want to proceed to the final round of the competition, they must submit a record pitch of their proposed product design. The recorded pitch will be recorded in tandem with the design brief and wireframe.
Q19. What do the winners get?
A $2,000 cash prize. Entries will be displayed on the contest website. Social media publicity opportunities will be offered with challenge voting structure.
Q20. How is the prize money split up among team members?
Prizes won are awarded to the Team Leader. The Team Leader is responsible for distributing the prize among the Team members.
**Do you have a question that we haven’t answered?
You can reach out to the challenge organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.