Visualizing Hospital Price Data

Transformation of the health care delivery system cannot occur without greater price transparency. Efforts to increase price transparency have multiplied in recent years, but much remains to be done. Hospital prices are particularly opaque, and vary significantly depending on who is paying the bill. Currently consumers don’t know what a hospital will charge them for a given procedure or how much of a price difference there exists at different hospitals.

In an effort to increase price transparency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have publicly released for the first time a data set showing what hospitals charged and what Medicare paid for the 100 most common Medicare inpatient stays (Diagnostic Related Groups or DRGs) in 2011. And on June 3, 2013 CMS also released an outpatient data set, containing charges and Medicare payments for 30 select Ambulatory Payment Classification Codes (APCs), by facility.The differences between hospital charges and Medicare payments are striking, as is the enormous variation in hospital charges across and within communities. 

We challenge you to visualize the hospital price data to create greater transparency in the healthcare field. Help the public, organizations and/or communities better understand, explore, and interpret the issues revealed in the data as well as the data’s relationships to other issues, such as hospital quality and patient satisfaction.

We’re excited to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Health 2.0 on this challenge and are offering $30,000 in prizes! Check Health 2.0 for complete details and to learn about their Apps and Tools Challenge, which offers $90,000 in prizes.


Participants may use one or both of the primary data sets. 

Primary Data Sets

Medicare Provider Charge Data: Inpatient

Medicare Provider Charge Data: Outpatient

The use of additional open data sets is strongly encouraged and will be factored into the scores of each project.

Get more insight from our Behind the Data interview with Niall Brennan, the Director of the Office of Information Products and Data Analytics at CMS.

Missed the Data Webinar? No problem, you can catch the video on the Challenge Page. Have questions? Check out the challenge FAQ and join the Google group.



First Prize: $9,000
Second Prize: $7,000
Third Prize: $3,000 


First Prize: $6,000
Second Prize: $3,500
Third Prize: $1,500

NOTE: Interactive projects offer some form of user interaction that allow the viewer to explore, filter, or otherwise manipulate the data display. This interactivity can range from the simple to the very complex, but in almost all cases it requires some combination of design and programming to build. On the other hand, static projects are images, motion graphics, videos, or slideshows that offer the same content to all viewers. Most of the time, infographics can be created without any programming, using graphics and design software. Between these two definitions there is a gray area — for instance, projects that include user-triggered animations but offer no filtering or manipulation of the data being displayed may or may not be considered “interactive.” For this challenge, the final designation of whether each project is an interactive or static will be left up to our jury.


Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to participate. For additional information on eligibility and submission requirements, visit the Challenge Page at Health 2.0.


If you are interested in participating, you must pre-register for the challenge on Health 2.0.

When you are ready to submit your project, click "Enter This Challenge" below and include the following in the description section:

  • a brief text description (no more than 250 words) that includes details on your data analysis, what the visualization shows and how it might be used by the public 
  • a URL to a video pitch (no more than 3 minutes) of your visualization [Please include this URL above your description.

UPLOAD NOTE: Your video pitch should not be uploaded on We recommend posting your video pitch to YouTube or Vimeo to obtain a URL. On the upload form on, include the URL to your video pitch in the Caption box. The project link is only to upload the file for your visualization. 

Deadline: Monday, August 26, 11:59 pm ET

UPDATE: Winners Announced: Tuesday, October 1

Winners present project at the Health 2.0 Conference: Tuesday, October 1 


Impact (25%): To what degree does this solution provide significant public benefit by elucidating an important issue?

Innovation (25%): To what degree is this solution innovative and bring new thinking to the topic?

Clarity (15%): Is it easy to understand and digest the information that is presented?

Data Analysis (20%): Is the data analysis sound and reflect an understanding of the data?

Open and Other Data (15%): To what degree does the solution leverage other open data? Judges will examine depth of use for each data stream and the breadth of different data used. 


  • Nisha Bhat, CMS
  • Lynn Cherny, Ghostweather Research & Design
  • Katherine Hempstead, RWJF
  • Noah Ilinsky, IBM
  • Ben Jones, DataRemixed
  • Jared Frank, CMS
  • Donald Thompson, CMS
  • Claudia Williams, HHS



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