CMS Innovation Center launches AI health challenge

The agency wants AI that can help predict unplanned hospital visits.
(Getty Images)

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sees a future in which artificial intelligence can help predict unplanned hospital admissions, and the agency is throwing a potential $1.6 million behind challenge-based research and development of this concept.

CMS launched the Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge in partnership with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation earlier this week.

The challenge, which CMS explicitly ties to President Trump’s recent executive order on AI, “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,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “Adverse events” are defined as unintended situations where care results in further injury or illness — like a hospital-acquired infection. The challenge will “prioritize” explainable AI solutions, per its website and marketing materials.

“The power of artificial intelligence will truly be unleashed when providers understand and trust the data and predictions,” Verma said.


The contest will run in three stages — interested participants have until June 18 to submit an initial application. From there, 20 participants will be invited into Stage 1, where the actual work of testing a proposed solution on medicare data begins. Five Stage 1 winners will go to Stage 2, where further testing will take place. The final grand prize winner will be eligible for a prize of up to $1 million.

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