The Heritage Health Prize is a $3 million contest, sponsored by managed-care company Heritage Provide Network Inc, to use medical data to improve health care by designing a predictive algorithm that can best predict when people are likely to be sent to the hospital. Yesterday (March 15) the Network announced that the world's largest predictive modeling contest (noted previous contests include the Netflix Prize in 2009) will also include progress prizes totaling $230,000 awarded to teams leading the competition at various milestones.

The Heritage contest will begin officially on April 4th and will last for around 2 years. Participants will be able to use insurance claims data (anonymised) to help build their predictive models. The overall aim is to predict how many days a patient is likely to spend in hospital and use this information to develop more innovative and preventative services to improve patient care and also save costs. The video below shows a launch presentation that was delivered at the recent O'Reilly Strata "Making Data Work" conference.

So why publish this on a visualisation blog? Whilst the algorithm will be the headline development behind any participant entry, visualisation techniques will play a massive role in the exploration of the insurance claims to help understand patterns and relationships in the data leading to possible innovative ideas. It will also be vital to deploy effective visualisation techniques for presenting the developments as part of the contest process. I'm sure there are many hugely talented data modellers out there who could make a great impact on this contest so why not dip your toe in the water and see how you get on? More information about the contest can be found in a Wall Street Journal article (sub required) and on PR Newswire.

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