Innovation Center Hosts Developer Challenge to Create Signal Detection Solution for Successful Aging

Posted on Nov 20, 2012

March 30, 2012

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s (PAMF) David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation is hosting the linkAges™ Developer Challenge and Accelerator Project, and through this initiative is inviting the technical community to partner with it to develop new ways to help seniors age successfully.

Barriers to Successful Aging

Health care for seniors is characterized by fragmented services, high cost, and suboptimal outcomes. It ignores critical aspects of quality of life that significantly impact health, particularly social and behavioral determinants. Each day for the next 18 years over 10,000 Baby Boomers in the U.S. turn 65 every single day. For instance, In 1990, 1 in 8 residents of Santa Clara County was over age 60. By 2010, that grew to 1 in 6. By 2030 it will be over 1 in 4. A vast majority of rapidly growing senior population expresses the desire to age independently in place in their homes and communities.

Problem to Solve

PAMF has committed to tackling one of the most significant issues of our time, “Changing the Aging Experience” for seniors.

Today, the vast majority of the rapidly growing senior population in the U.S. expresses the desire to age independently in place in their homes and communities.  But many face an array of challenges to doing so, including increasingly complex health issues, social isolation, and difficulty accessing resources that support their ability to age in place.  In addition, care for seniors is characterized by fragmented services, high cost, and suboptimal outcomes. It ignores critical aspects of quality of life that significantly impact health, including social and behavioral determinants.

Key Innovation – linkAges™ System for Successful Aging

PAMF’s innovative solution is to create a highly functional, coordinated “Ecosystem” that supports successful aging; aging in place with high quality of life.  This ecosystem, called linkAges™, seeks to tightly connect and integrate social services and caregiver support already in the community, partnerships with professional healthcare teams, and tools that empower seniors and caregivers to gain access to resources specific to their personal context, goals and preferences.

The linkAges ecosystem will be markedly different from today’s world and will create a network of interconnectedness among seniors and their caregivers overlaid by the delivery of an array of services specifically tailored to helping seniors age successfully – not just live longer, but extend the time for independent living with high quality of life.  This will be achieved through the following system capabilities:

  • Understand and help realize the senior’s quality-of-life goals, taking into account personal context, needs, preferences and risks
  • Leverage personalized knowledge of the senior to preempt situations leading to adverse, acute life events
  • Tailor a community safety net for each senior comprising interconnected individuals, resources, and activities
  • Create a rich environment that facilitates a senior’s ability to stay socially engaged and maintain a sense of purpose and value

Developer Challenge – Innovative Solutions for Signal Detection

The developer challenge is focused on one of the key components of the  linkAges ecosystem, “signal detection,” tracking and interpreting data that will forewarn of impending events with the potential for significant negative consequences.

The PAMF Innovation Team is asking developers to explore Signal Detection, the creative detection and use of signals of physical and social health of our seniors to proactively improve health outcomes and quality of life.

The PAMF is looking for expansive, outside-the-box thinking, so this is a place for BOLD ideas, from developer teams who are aligned with the Successful Aging mission and share a passion for disruptively innovative solutions.

Further background information was presented in a recent Webinar. Click here for more details.

Challenge Deliverables

Challengers are required to deliver a working prototype of their proposed solution.

Of particular interest are community-based signals that are not currently captured and leveraged within the traditional clinical care setting:

  • Select signals they believe are important and relevant to senior health and quality of life
  • Prototype creative systems in which those signals could be detected, analyzed and meaningfully visualized by appropriate parties
  • Show what actions would be taken as a result
  • Demonstrate how the proposed approach would improve the health of a population of seniors in the community.

Indicative Evaluation Criteria

  • Addresses a significant problem fundamental to senior health and well-being (30%)
  • Potential to impact identified problem (25%)
  • Implementability and fit with linkAges system design (15%)
  • Innovation and creativity (15%)
  • Cost-effective, affordable, sustainable, & scalable (15%)


The Developer Challenge will have three stages: kick-off challenge, developer challenge, and accelerator challenge, each stage building on the previous one while raising the bar on the required deliverables and opportunities.

  • Developer Kick-off Event: April 14th and 15th
  • Developer Challenge Registration Opens: April 30th
  • Developer Challenge Webinar Briefing and Kick-Off: May 5th
  • Developer Challenge Closes: July 30th
  • Developer Challenge Judging: August 13th
  • Winner Announced: October 1st
  • Winner Commences Accelerator (6 month Program): October 1st

Winner to Join PAMF’s Innovation Center Accelerator

Prizes will be awarded at each stage, but the ultimate winner of the developer challenge will have the opportunity to work in the PAMF Innovation Center Accelerator, further refining their solution, interfacing it with PAMF’s linkAges successful aging system, and implementing it in the real world with real people.

PAMF’s intent in offering the winner of the challenge the opportunity to work in the Accelerator for 6 months is to make this solution a key part of the linkAges system build.

Further Information

Further details on the Developer Challenge can be found on the Health 2.0 website.

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