"By bringing people into industries or having them develop industries that did not exist through incentives like this, I thought that maybe I too could modestly change the world."
There will be an entry fee of up to $400, which a Heritage spokeswoman says is necessary to assemble the database and make sure contestants are serious about the project.
Merkin says the database qualifying entrants will receive includes claims information, lab and pharmacy data, hospitalizations, and diagnostic history for 100,000 real but de-identified patients seen in 2009.
They will then develop an algorithm to predict which patients were hospitalized.
The contestants will not receive information on the patient's race, ethnicity, weight, age, socioeconomic level or geographic area of residence, which makes the job even tougher.
After the contestants have shown the contest judges that they have developed a viable algorithm, they will then be provided information on a second set of patients. This second set, however, will not include information on whether the patients were hospitalized. Then, the judges will see if the contestants' algorithm applied to this second set can accurately predict hospitalization.