CMS launches Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, along with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, will award as much as $1.65 million for AI healthcare solutions.

According to CMS, the goal of the competition is to develop AI-driven predictions that providers participating in Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation models could use to reduce the burden to perform quality improvement activities and make quality measures more impactful.

“The Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge is an opportunity for innovators to demonstrate how artificial intelligence tools—such as deep learning and neural networks—can be used to predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events,” says CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

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Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, speaks during a 'Conversations with the Women of America' event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Republican leaders in Congress are angling for another short-term funding measure to avert a government shutdown at the end of this week while trying to keep a dispute over immigration separate from their attempts to get agreement on spending priorities. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

“For artificial intelligence to be successful in healthcare, it must not only enhance the predictive ability of illnesses and diseases, but also enable providers to focus more time with patients,” adds Verma. “The power of artificial intelligence will truly be unleashed when providers understand and trust the data and predictions.”

Adam Boehler, CMS deputy administrator and CMMI director, first made the announcement about the challenge during a panel session at last month’s HIMSS19 conference in Orlando.

Also See: CMS to hold AI, quality measures competition

“We think that AI and machine learning are going to fundamentally change what it means to be a physician,” says Steven Waldren, MD, AAFP vice president and CMIO. “We’re focused on augmenting and expanding what we do in primary care-family medicine, rather than replacing what we do.”

“A lot of the quality measures that we have today require a fair amount of effort on the part of the physicians to capture, codify, report and transmit,” adds Waldren. “There are opportunities for AI to use the raw data and create derivative measures from that which don’t require the heavy lift. This could really help our doctors with some of the administrative burdens that they have, while making sure that the measures are really focused on improving outcomes and reducing costs.”

The challenge has three stages: the Launch Stage, in which participants will submit an application; Stage 1 which will include as many as 20 participants with up to five participants awarded a maximum of $80,000 to advance to the next round; and Stage 2, in which a grand prize winner will be awarded as much as $1 million, and the runner up will be awarded as much as $250,000.

“If selected for Stage 1, participants will develop algorithms that predict health outcomes from Medicare fee-for-service data, and strategies and methodologies to explain the artificial intelligence-driven predictions to frontline clinicians and physicians while building trust in the data,” according to the announcement. “Participants in Stages 1 and 2 of the competition will use Medicare claims data sets provided by CMS to develop their algorithms and solutions.”

Applications for the Launch Stage, which will run from March through June, must be submitted by June 18. Stage 1 will run from the summer through fall, while Stage 2 will run from the winter of 2019 through next spring—with the winner announced in April 2020.

Additional information about the CMS Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge can be found here.

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