Infoway turns to the “crowd” for ideas

I first heard about this idea last fall and thought it was a great way to engage a wider audience in coming with new ideas for how to use IT to transform healthcare services delivery. Infoway’s ImagineNation ideas challenges offers cash prizes for “bold, new ideas – or creative combinations of existing ideas.”

Ideas will be evaluated according to four criteria:

  1. Impact on Health and Health Care in Canada (30%)
  2. Innovation & Originality (30%)
  3. Effective Use of Technology (20%)
  4. Feasibility (20%)

A total of $35,000 in prize money is available and will be awarded as follows:

  • $100 for up to 50 top ideas
  • $250 for the idea that receives the most votes from Canadians (“Canada’s Choice” Award)
  • $5,000 for each of up to 5 top finalists
  • An additional $5,000 for the winning idea

The top ideas will be announced July 5th just after the Canada Day long weekend.   You can find more details here.

According to Infoway, they plan to “promote the leading ideas” though the exact details of how they will do so have not been specified.  As well, they are “considering future initiatives that may be informed by the best ideas“.

Overall, I think that the notion of a public “challenge” is a good way to raise greater awareness of the impact that IT can have on healthcare and to more meaningfully engage Canadians in Infoway’s mission.   The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, issued a similar challenge last year to develop mobile applications to combat childhood obesity and not only raised awareness about this growing problem but also stimulated development of some innovative mobile applications.

I do wish that the public input would have a greater impact on selecting the winning ideas.  Perhaps a more substantial cash award could be associated with the “people’s choice”.  Or, maybe the criteria could be adjusted so that public voting would factor into the choice of the top winners.




3 responses to “Infoway turns to the “crowd” for ideas

  1. Mike,

    I agree that engaging a wider audience can be very effectively accomplished by reaching out for ideas and offering a prize. Collecting the ideas is the easy part. Translating the good ones into action is where the challenge comes in. I hope some thought goes into the steps beyond the selection of the winners.


  2. Thanks for posting about this Mike. I just read about the contest and it sounds like a great idea, and an even better PR campaign. I cannot wait to see what people submit – there are many brilliant Canadians interested in e-health these days (so many more than just a couple of years ago even, or so it seems). I agree with Alan, it will also be even more interesting to see which idea wins, and how it gets transformed once they decide on the winner (ie. feasibility and costs taken into account). Keep us posted.

  3. I too am excited by Infoway’s ImagineNation contest. I hope there is strong participation from front-line clinicians who have the clearest insight into where IT investment dollars can most effectively be spent. Too often these decisions are made by senior bureaucrats far removed from front-line clinical work.

    Public voting can be risky. It’s tough to ensure everyone casts at most one vote, and individuals with access to large social networks can swamp the ballot with “vote for me” campaigns. I think judges offer a better chance of getting a fair, merit based award.

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