Health Advisor - an online game for transforming the health care system

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Health Advisor - an online game for transforming the health care system

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Health Advisor harnesses the 'wisdom of crowds' to generate innovative ideas and concepts designed to improve the health care system.

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Your idea
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Focus of activity

Policy/institutional change

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Narrow Corporate or Public Policy Mission

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Community Health

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Complexity of the current health care system and the inabilty to test potentially groundbreaking ideas in 'real time.'

What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

Health Advisor harnesses the 'wisdom of crowds' to generate innovative ideas and concepts designed to improve the health care system.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

We take a high level, holistic view of the health care enterprise rather than focusing on one specific task improvement.
In Health Advisor, each player manages a set of clients through the system with a goal of maximizing the value of outcomes - the average health state of his clients divided by the costs of achieving this state. This goal is pursued by interacting with agent-based clients about their health state, accessing information on the performance and costs of different providers, assigning clients to providers, and monitoring results.
Health Advisor players compete to achieve the highest score. They can use various strategies for managing the progression of patients' health states from acute to chronic to symptomatic to normal, thereby achieving either a less threatening state, recovery, or death. They can inform these strategies by accessing a wide range of patient, provider, and general medical information.

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

The current health care system can be described as a federation of entrepreneurs with no one in charge. It is a fragmented system that is a mix of public and private entities with competing interests and incentives. Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as other countries, but rank somewhere below Costa Rica in effectiveness of the system and health state of our citizens.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

We are selectively using the game with different groups - physicians, nurse practitioners, industry executives, human resource personnel, healthcare administrators etc. to generate a variety of decisions, responses, and game play methods.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

As the number of gamers increases, we will expand server capacity and user support as our funding permits. We also want to add explicit educational elements to Health Advisor in order to create a richer user experience with more learning opportunities. This ambitious undertaking, in addition to our aspirations to create Public Health Advisor, will also depend on the funding available.

Provide one sentence describing your impact.

Through this research, we expect to gain insights that will contribute to transforming the health care system.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

We have used this game with representatives from the Federation of State Medical Boards, and gained insight into game development. They were all physicians, and we found that there was a great deal of resistance to change among this group. They also informed us about other questions we should be asking. We are also working with the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Medicine, the American Medical Informatics Association, the National Academy of Engineering adn the Blue Ridge Group of Academic Health Centers.

How many people have you served directly?

We have presented this game and game concept to over 1,000 people. We hope to actively engage several hundred for our initial research.

How many people have you served indirectly?

Our game is different from most of those in this competition, as we are conducting academic research on the enterprise level. Therefore, counts of direct and indirect services are not entirely applicable.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

What we hope to see is a variety of ideas, some a bit off the wall, about how to positively impact the healthcare system. The sheer amount of data we will be able to collect will provide us with insights, patterns, and archival knowledge.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

We are limited by staffing and IT infrastructure capacity. Additional funding, which we are seeking from a variety of sources, would significantly remedy this problem.

How is your initiative financed?

Health Advisor is a research tool, with no cost to participate for the user. We are looking for foundation and corporate funding to create a powerful platform for identification and evaluation of potential healthcare delivery innovations.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

Our annual budget for the Tennenbaum Institute is $1,000,000. Our paid staff (including PhD students) is 25, with at least 25 additional associated faculty from across all disciplines of Georgia Tech.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The targeted audience for our game is broad. Our near-term goal is to pilot test the game with professionals in medicine, nursing, and administration. This will help validate our models and databases of disease states, state-dependent symptoms, and alternative courses of treatment. We also value the insights gained that will help make the game more interesting.

Our longer term goal is to create a game that is compelling to a broader audience, especially those attracted to serious games.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

We are not creating this game for profit, but for research. We will conduct only the research we have funding for.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

In a meeting bemoaning the complexity of the healthcare enterprise, Dr. William Rouse commented, "Why don't we just let 10,000 eleven year olds optimize the healthcare system?" As Bill shared his vision for an online game, the number and range of enthusiasts for this idea was compelling. Potential users (players), beneficiaries (medical professionals), and researchers asked to be involved, often contributing ideas to enrich and extend the game concept.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Dr. Rouse is Executive Director of the Tennenbaum Institute at Georgia Tech and a Professor in the Institute's College of Computing and Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He has held faculty positions at several other leading universities and has founded and led two innovative software companies. He is the author of hundreds of articles. Among his recent books are People and Organizations, Enterprise Transformation, Organizational Simulation.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

1. Direct outreach from a Changemakers member, Dessa Dal Porto and Tyler Ahn. Also, we were recommended by Chinwe Onyekere and Theresa Kanter of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.