For instance, one of the more fascinating X Prizes available for Life Sciences is the Archon X Prize for Genomics. It will award $10 million to the first entity that can map 100 human genomes in 10 days. The prize is based on the idea that cheap and quick genomic analysis will allow physicians and other healthcare workers to quickly identify diseases for which a particular patient is susceptible, as well as treatments that might work better for those people than others.
The obstacles to this reality are currently the cost of mapping and the time necessary to do so. Thus, the 100 genomes in 10 days stipulation. This, and many other X Prizes, are valuable incentives to get people working on very difficult problems that currently have no solution.
However, and this is my point, there's not really anything available for those who would improve healthcare administration. We know that's where the waste is. But it's difficult to determine simple quantum leap-style criteria on which such an award would be based.
What would such a prize seek to reward? How would it be structured such that it is a sort of a race? How could such a prize garner the national spotlight the same way a race to orbit might?
I don't know. I don't have a clue as to how to structure a prize that would improve quality and lower cost in healthcare such that it could be objectively judged. Smarter people than me need to figure out the goals. All I know is that healthcare is drastically in need of innovation in this area, and perhaps an X-prize would lead to quicker progress on these fronts.
I'll share any ideas that seem interesting in a future column.