Who are “super-utilizers”?

The term “super-utilizer” describes individuals who have complex physical, behavioral, and social needs that are not well met through the current fragmented U.S. health care system. Often, these individuals are low-income and receive health coverage through Medicaid. As a result of their complex needs and fragmented care, they often bounce from emergency department to emergency department, and from inpatient admission to readmission—leading to extremely high costs and poor health outcomes.

In order to address their unique needs, it is important for providers and systems to take into account the social factors – for example homelessness, lack of reliable transportation, or social isolation (often referred to as social determinants of health) – that impact their ability to care for themselves, retain health coverage, or access health care. Learn more about this population on the Background page.

Why create digital health solutions for super-utilizers?

Even as digital health solutions become increasingly widespread, few products are designed to meet the specific social and health needs of low-income super-utilizers. This group is, however, an increasingly “connected” population, with rising levels of access to smart phones and technology. The very factors that make this high-need patient group challenging to work with in the health care setting may make digital health tools a valuable resource for improving their outcomes and reducing the costs of their care.

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) wants developers to design creative digital health solutions tailored to the unique challenges faced by low-income, high-need super-utilizers.

In this first of three digital health developer challenges for super-utilizers, CHCS is asking developers to focus on creating solutions that address one or more of the following issues (for detailed descriptions of each, check out the Background page):

  • Eligibility and coverage management;
  • Chronic disease and care management; 
  • Hand-offs, care transitions, and connections to social services;
  • Appointment management; and
  • Access to health and wellness resources.
How can you learn more?

We have provided a Case Study to illustrate how the challenges outlined above manifest in everyday life for low-income individuals with complex medical, behavioral health, and social needs.

For more detailed information about this population and their challenges, as well as links to resources, please visit the Background and Resources pages.

Additionally, CHCS hosted two webinars for individuals interested in the Super-Utilizer Health Innovation Challenge. Access them at the links below. 

Participant Webinar #1Challenge Overview, The Population, and Q&A

Participant Webinar #2: Challenge Overview, The Submission Process, Q&A


This challenge is open to:

  • Individuals (who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry);
  • Teams of eligible individuals; and
  • Organizations (up to 50 employees).
  • Organizations with over 50 employees may compete for the non-cash Large Organization Recognition Award.

Government owned entities and participants who are employed by the Center for Health Care Strategies are not eligible. Please see Rules for details.


What to Create: Participants must create a working software application that addresses one or more of the following challenges faced by super-utilizers: (1) eligibility and coverage management; (2) chronic disease and care management; (3) hand-offs, care transitions, and connections to social services; (4) appointment management; and/or (5) access to health and wellness resources.

Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows PC, Mac OS, web and mobile web, Windows or Mac desktop computer, or other hardware including but not limited to wearable technology and open source hardware. (Your app must function on at least one of these platforms/devices.)

Supplemental Material: You must submit a demo video (hosted on YouTube or Vimeo) that walks through the main functionality of the app via screencast or video. You must also submit at least one image/screenshot of your app. While it is not required, we strongly encourage you to refer to the Case Study of Mary in your submission video, and discuss how your product addresses one or more of the issues she faces.

New & Existing Apps: Apps may be newly created or pre-existing.

For more detail, please see the Rules section.

Hackathon Sponsors


$50,000 in prizes

Grand Prize: AdhereTech

AdhereTech is the Grand Prize winner, and will receive a $25,000 cash prize and opportunity to meet with Kaiser Permanente, Association of Community Affiliated Plans, and Alliance of Community Health Plans to discuss possible piloting opportunities.

Second Place Prize: A-CHESS

A-CHESS is the second place winner and will receive a $15,000 cash prize.

Third Place Prize: Wellth

Wellth is the third place winner and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Please refer to the Rules page for further detail.

  • Register for the first Super-Utilizer Health Innovation Challenge by clicking the “Register for this Challenge” button. This will enable you to receive important updates and access the “Enter a Submission” page. To complete registration, sign up to create a ChallengePost account, or log in with an existing ChallengePost account. (There is no charge for creating a ChallengePost account. This will enable you to receive important updates and access the “Enter a Submission” page.)
  • Access recordings of the two participant webinars we've hosted. Click here for the first, and here for the second.
  • Review the Case Study and Background pages on the Challenge website to gain an understanding of the issues faced by super-utilizers.
  • Create a working software application that addresses one or more of the issues faced by low-income, high-need super-utilizers – highlighted above, and on the Background page. 
  • Create a video of no more than 5 minutes in length, that clearly explains your application’s features and functionality through a comprehensive demonstration. Videos that refer to the Case Study are highly encouraged.
  • Complete and enter all of the required fields on the “Enter a Submission” page of the Challenge Website (each a “Submission”) during the Challenge Submission Period, and follow requirements.


Michelle Blackmore

Michelle Blackmore
Director, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, Bronx Behavioral Health Integration Project, The Care Management Organization, Montefiore Medical Center

Kyle M. Brown

Kyle M. Brown
Senior Health Policy Advisor, Colorado Office of the Governor

Georganne Chapin

Georganne Chapin
President and CEO, Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality

Stephen J. Downs

Stephen J. Downs
Chief Technology and Information Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Thomas J. Foels

Thomas J. Foels
Chief Medical Officer, Independent Health

Katya Hancock

Katya Hancock
Strategic Partnerships Director, StartUp Health

Jonathan Hendler

Jonathan Hendler
Product Manager, Ginger.io

Rebecca Vale

Rebecca Vale
Behavioral Health Consultant Clinical Supervisor, Southcentral Foundation

John Vu

John Vu
Vice President, Director of Strategy and Chief of Staff at Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy

Judging Criteria

  • Creativity, Innovation, and Vision
    Does this solution creatively tackle the challenges facing complex populations? Regardless of the current functional stage of the product, does the developer have a clear, feasible, and exciting vision for the future of this product?
  • Quality, Accuracy, and Content of the Idea
    Are the underlying ideas driving this solution well thought-out? Is the information and content of the solution accurate, appropriate and sufficiently comprehensive to be useful for this population?
  • Potential Impact/User Value
    How likely will this solution improve lives/health and save money if the product worked, was developed, and widely distributed? To what extent does the product bring value to users and help them meet a need?
  • Quality of Implementation and User Experience
    Is the product well-designed and intuitive, with a strong visual aesthetic? Would users find it easy to use and understand? Does the design inspire individuals to keep using it over time? Is the design tailored to the needs and circumstances of users?
  • Commercial Potential/Market Size
    Is the product built out enough to be subjected to more robust testing? Would it garner interest for pilots in health care settings? What is the feasibility of distribution to target users, scalability, and potential demand?

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