US: CMS challenge for AI for Medicare ends
May 11, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

ClosedLoop.ai has won the Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge put forward by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS) USA.

CMS administers the Medicare programme in the United States and comes under the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare is a health insurance programme supported by the US govt. The insurance program serves people aged 65 and above and people with disabilities receiving Social Security.

What is the Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge
The challenge was developed to find new AI-powered solutions for healthcare. The emphasis was put on predicting health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries in the United States of America. The challenge was announced in 2019 and 25 participants were selected from the entry pool. There were three stages in the challenge. 
The main focus of the challenge was to help hospitals and health systems become more cost efficient, foresee and precent adverse patient safety events and boost quality support.

Why it matters
The competition was developed with the aim of highlighting and boosting the development of AI solutions for patients who have subscribed to Medicare. This also highlights a shift in attitude of US government’s approach towards AI in healthcare. In 2021, the federal funding announced for advancement in artificial intelligence mainly focused on defence.

In 2020, CMS reported that 60 million Americans have subscribed to Medicare.
The participants were assessed with a team of independent AI scientists and clinicians from the American Academy of Family Physicians. 

The winning team created algorithms to predict and identify Medicare beneficiaries at risk of mortality in a year. Transparency and algorithmic biases were also factors on which the participants were judged. Transparency was important for physicians and nurses as an easy-to-understand software is usually an easy to explain software. 
CMS Acting administrator Liz Richter said: ‘Clinicians are eager to use the latest innovations to better help identify patients at risk, provide higher quality care, and improve health outcomes. The use of artificial intelligence has the potential to achieve these aims by providing important information to clinicians that may be helpful in providing higher quality care.’

How did ClosedLoop bag the win?
ClosedLoop’s co-founder and CTO Dave DeCaprio has said that the company’s Patient Health Forecasts were key to winning the challenge. He said, also ‘We reimagined the entire concept into a comprehensive and personalized risk forecast that could be delivered directly into a clinical workflow. Each forecast surfaces key variables and explains precisely how they contribute to a patient’s specific risk’
The company will win up to $1 million in prize money. 

US funding for AI focused on healthcare
There have been instances when medical decisions powered by artificial intelligence have led to controversy in the United States.

Recently, there have also been calls to increase funding in AI focused on healthcare under the Biden administration.
With the US govt funding a challenge like this and the FDA’s recent approval to market an AI powered gadget which helps detect pancreatic cancer, it is apparent that AI in healthcare is a growing field with much to offer.

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