Foundation Announces $120,000 Challenge to Help Consumers Understand and Act Upon Hospital Pricing

    • June 3, 2013

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has launched a competition among technology developers to improve consumer understanding and use of data that compare hospital prices. Winners of the RWJF Hospital Price Transparency Challenge will share $120,000 in prize money. The competition was announced today at Health Datapalooza IV in Washington, D.C.

Last month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took the unprecedented step of publishing prices charged by more than 3,000 hospitals for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. The information showed extreme variation in pricing among U.S. hospitals—even those operating in the same communities. Experts say it underscores the urgent need for transparency in the health care system.

The RWJF Hospital Price Transparency Challenge is designed to further disseminate the use of the CMS hospital data. The competition consists of two components—one for creating visualizations of the data, and another for developing consumer applications and tools. The visualization challenge requires entrants to create visual representations to help consumers and others better understand, explore and interpret the information. Applicants are encouraged to incorporate other data which can be used in combination with the hospital pricing data. The apps and tools developed should help improve understanding of the hospital pricing information and promote further transparency about prices.

“The challenge asks technology developers to transform these data into intuitive, actionable tools,” said Katherine Hempstead, PhD, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We hope this will spark discussion and innovation that will help further progress toward increased price transparency in health care.” 

Winners of the visualization component of the challenge will be announced at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in October 2013. The deadline for submissions is August 25. The app and tools component will take place in two phases. The first phase will select five semi-finalists, who will be announced at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference. The deadline for this first phase is August 4. The second phase will select winning entries from among the semi-finalists. Winners will be announced on December 9 at the mHealth Summit. Staff from Health 2.0 and will manage both challenges.

This is the third competition RWJF has sponsored with Health 2.0 to seek innovative uses of health care data. RWJF launched the ‘Aligning Forces Challenge’ in 2011, seeking applications to make health care quality data more accessible, and announced the winners at the 2012 Health Datapalooza. In 2012, RWJF launched the ‘Games to Generate Data Challenge,’ currently ongoing, which asks developers to use games and gaming concepts to create health care quality data.



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook a

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Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937