Knight News Challenge offers $2 million for innovative uses of health data

Press Release

July 30, 2013


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Health Data Consortium team with Knight Foundation for health innovation contest

Miami, Fla. – (July 30, 2013) – The next Knight News Challenge, which opens Aug. 19, will offer a share of more than $2 million for innovative ideas to harness information and data for the health of communities.

The challenge is an unprecedented collaboration between Knight Foundation, a leading funder of news and media innovation, and four major players in the health arena: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation, the Clinton Foundation and the Health Data Consortium.

“Health is an area where journalism, open data and public information overlap, giving us a direct, tangible opportunity to help people learn more and make smart choices through the use of technology and data,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.

The News Challenge will call on participants to answer the question: How might we harness data and information for the health of communities? We are looking to be surprised by innovative ideas not prescribe them, but some of the types of projects that we might see include:

  • Ideas that make large public datasets useful, e.g. Open Data Institute in the United Kingdom, which helped identify unnecessary spending on name-brand drugs instead of generics;

  • Ideas that help inform healthcare consumers, e.g. a ProPublica app that shows how much individual doctors have been paid by pharmaceutical companies; or, which tracks prescription drug prices nationwide and provides savings;

  • Ideas that leverage personal behavioral data, social media data and/or public data to inform lifestyle choices, e.g. the LIVES restaurant inspection score app; which mashes up fitness data with ambient data; and Asthmapolis, a mashup of data on asthma triggers, such as weather and pollen, with user symptoms; and

  • Ideas that inform local health policy, e.g. the County Health Calculator, which uses statistical data to determine how factors outside the health care system, such as education and income, affect our health.

The challenge is a collaborative effort: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation, the Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative and Health Data Consortium contributed their expertise to help frame the challenge question and tap into current community needs in health. They will also help with outreach, and with reviewing the entries once the challenge closes.

"Today, we have unprecedented amounts of data, yet we're only scratching the surface of its potential," said Paul Tarini, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Through this collaboration, we hope more people and more communities will come to understand how to harness data to help us live healthier lives and get the care we need."

"To improve the health of all Americans we need to get meaningful data into the hands of consumers and local policymakers," said Andy Krackov, senior program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation. "The Knight News Challenge, which taps into the 'wisdom of crowds', can not only act as a catalyst here, it could spur greater transparency around how health care is delivered."

 “The Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s partnership with the Knight Foundation aims to leverage health data, technology and innovation to provide more Americans with more effective tools to lead healthier lives," said Ginny Ehrlich, chief executive officer, Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

"Unshackling health data will improve health and health care in myriad ways.  The benefits include more effective treatments, better informed patients and physicians, lower costs, and even improved accessibility to health services,” said Dwayne Spradlin, chief executive officer of Health Data Consortium. “We are proud to team up with these foundations to inspire bold and creative ideas to extend that impact into our communities."

The collaborating organizations will be active during the opening “inspiration” phase of the challenge from Aug. 19, when anyone can identify needs, share success stories, post data sets, contribute ideas and more at The challenge will be open for entries Sept. 3 through 17.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

Contact: Anusha Alikhan, [email protected], 305-908-2646

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and healthcare, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

Contact: Christine Clayton, [email protected], 609-627-5937

About the California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. We support ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care. On the web at

Contact: Spencer Sherman, [email protected], 510-587-3111

About the Clinton Health Matters Initiative:

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI), an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, works to improve the health and well-being of people across the United States by activating individuals, communities, and organizations to make meaningful contributions to the health of others. CHMI works to implement evidence-based systems, environmental and investment strategies, with the goals of ultimately reducing the prevalence of preventable diseases, reducing health care costs associated with preventable diseases, and improving the quality of life for people across America. More at
Contact: [email protected]

About Health Data Consortium

The Health Data Consortium is a collaboration among government, non-profit and private sector organizations working to foster the availability and innovative use of data to improve health and health care. To learn more about HDC or Health Datapalooza go to
Contact: Jennifer Cosenza, [email protected], 202-729-4074