CMS offers up to $1.6M in AI challenge for better healthcare prediction tools

Details are finally out about a new artificial intelligence challenge aimed at creating tools to better predict patient health outcomes. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Wednesday it is launching the CMS Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge with the potential for projects to win up to $1.65 million. It was created in partnership with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

It comes a little more than a month after Adam Boehler, director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI)—the innovation arm of CMS—teased early details about the competition at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) annual conference.

In the announcement on Wednesday, officials said the central goal is to develop artificial intelligence-driven predictions that healthcare providers and clinicians participating in CMS Innovation Center models can use. It is open to innovators from all sectors, officials said.

RELATED: HIMSS19: CMMI launching challenge competition to drive AI innovation

“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," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. "The power of artificial intelligence will truly be unleashed when providers understand and trust the data and predictions.”

Last year, Google, in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, released a study that found its AI-based software was more effective at predicting patient outcomes than other methods currently available.

“Medicine is treated too much like an art, and it’s a science. I think you’ll see more on the prevention side to get us to a system where we can stop disease before it happens,” Boehler said in February. 

RELATED: More clinical evidence needed to accelerate adoption of AI-enabled decision support: report

Those interested can submit an application; up to 20 participants will be selected to participate in Stage 1 of the challenge. Those participants will be expected to develop algorithms that predict health outcomes from Medicare fee-for-service data, as well as strategies and methodologies to explain the artificial intelligence-driven predictions to frontline clinicians and physicians while building trust in the data. Participants in Stages 1 and 2 will use Medicare claims data sets to develop their algorithms and solutions.

The deadline for submitting applications is June 18.