April 15, 2015 | Press Release

SUEalertgraphicHamilton, NJ, April 15, 2015 — The Center for Health Care Strategies announces a national digital health developer challenge to spur innovative solutions to help low-income populations with complex health care needs. The Super-Utilizer Health Innovation Challenge, made possible through Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, encourages developers to create software applications to improve care and outcomes for low-income individuals with multiple medical, behavioral health, and social needs.

These so-called ‘super-utilizers’ have complex needs that are not well met in the current fragmented health care system. As a result, they often wind up in the emergency department or admitted to the hospital — costly health care events that could potentially be avoided with more coordinated care. Despite the recent growth of digital health tools, few — if any — are designed for individuals with complex needs. This trend persists even though this population increasingly has access to digital technology — a 2012 Pew Research Center study reveals that 34 percent of low-income individuals own smartphones and 55 percent have basic cell phones.

“Mobile and digital technologies are increasingly accessible to all socioeconomic groups, providing tremendous new opportunities to help individuals manage their health, collaborate with providers, and meet their needs in real-time,” said Sean Chai, Kaiser Permanente’s director of innovation technology services. “This challenge will help accelerate solutions that focus on the specific needs of low-income, high-need, high-cost populations — a group that could hugely benefit from such tools.”

Over the next three months (April 15–July 15), developers are invited to create and submit a working software application that addresses one or more of the issues faced by super-utilizers. These range from chronic disease management to benefits eligibility tracking to access to healthy living resources. Developers can produce a broad range of solutions including, but not limited to, mobile applications for Android, iOS, Blackberry, etc.; web-based options; and wearable technologies. This is the first in a series of three CHCS-hosted developer challenges for this population.

Challenge entrants are eligible for $50,000 to be distributed among first-, second-, and third-place winners. The first-place winner will have the opportunity to meet with Kaiser Permanente, the Association of Community Affiliated Plans, and the Alliance of Community Health Plans to discuss possible piloting opportunities. Winners, chosen by a panel of national experts, will be announced in early August. Interested developers can visit the website for more details and register for an informational webinar on May 12.


The Super-Utilizer Health Innovation Challenge is part of the Center for Health Care Strategies’ Digital Health Initiative, supported by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, through which CHCS is seeking to bring the potential benefits of digital health tools to low-income populations with complex needs

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is a nonprofit policy center dedicated to improving health care quality for low-income Americans. CHCS works with state and federal agencies, health plans, providers, and consumer groups to develop innovative programs that better serve people with complex and high-cost health care needs. Its program priorities are: enhancing access to coverage and services; advancing delivery system reform; and integrating services for people with complex needs.