One of the many things newly-appointed Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park is credited with while serving in that role at the Department of Health and Human Services is the Health Data Initiative (HDI) and the webs site.

Originally launched in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the HHS as the Community Health Data Initiative (HDI Forum I), it is now part of the Health Data Consortium (HDC), a new public-private collaboration that encourages innovators to utilize health data to develop applications to raise awareness of health and health system performance and spark community action to improve health (HDI Forum II last June).

The goal of what is now being called the Health Datapalooza (HDI Forum III), to be held on June 5-6, 2012, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC., is to showcase the best and brightest new applications using health data from government and other sources.

I have followed Todd Park’s–and his predecessor, Aneesh Chopra’s–innovation efforts with health data culminating in the Health Data Initiative Forum II last June and the Strata 2011 New York Conference last September. I like their four policy levers that reflect their open innovation philosophy: Opening up data for innovators and entrepreneurs; taking on the role of impatient convener; initiating prizes, challenges, and competitions; and attracting top talent at the intersection of technology and policy.”

However, I think they have been upstaged by another activity: The $3 Million Heritage Health Prize Contest (see photo above and video).

Created, developed and sponsored by Dr. Richard Merkin, President and CEO of HPN, the goal of the prize is to decrease the number of avoidable hospitalizations, saving the country more than $32 billion in avoidable hospitalization costs. The prize is larger than the Nobel Prize for Medicine and the Gates Health Prize. They now have over 11,000 entries from around the world that attempt to predict how many days a patient will spend in a hospital in the next year.

HPN is a California-based integrated physicians group with 700,000 patients, the third largest in California. Dr. Merkin has more than 30 years experience running and managing these integrated physicians groups, with 28 in California and one in NY. Dr. Merkin created the $3 million dollar Heritage Health Care Prize Contest, the world’s largest in predictive modeling, to solve the country’s $2 trillion dollar health care crisis.

At the recent Strata 2012 Conference, the top two teams received $80,000 in the second progress prize, split as $50,000 and $30,000. Once again, the team of “Market Makers” continued to lead the competition, winning the top spot. Players include David Vogel, CEO and Chief Scientist of Voloridge Investment Management, Dr. Randy Axelrod, President of Randy Axelrod Consulting and Resource Global Health, and Phil Brierley, a data mining expert from Australia. Willem Mestrom, an information analyst from the Netherlands, again won second place in the prize contest, and has added a new team mate, Edward de Grijs, an engineer and software developer also from the Netherlands. The $3 Million Prize will be awarded next April.
Obviously, the Health Datapalooza needs real innovation investment to attract talent like the $3 Million Heritage Health Prize Contest has attracted, not just a contest.

Given our new Federal CTO Todd Park’s passion for health innovations, it might make great sense to invite Dr. Merkin and the recent first and second place winners to the June event as honored guests and mentors to share their successes at solving real problems with an investment incentive.

Caption: Heritage Pioneer Network Awards $80,000 To The Progress Prize Winners In The $3 Million Heritage Health Prize Contest At The Strata Conference In Santa Clara, California. Pictured above, Jonathan Gluck, HPN executive, David Vogel, winning team leader “Market Makers” and Jeremy Howard, Chief Data Scientist, Kaggle.