Healthcare IT Leaders Developer Collaborates on AI-Driven Pandemic Solutions

Can Artificial Intelligence help policymakers implement more effective Covid-19 reopening strategies? Developers and data scientists from around the world aim to find out—and win a massive cash prize in the process.

They are competing in the XPRIZE Pandemic Response Challenge, an international team competition focused on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to predict COVID-19 transmission rates and help decision makers implement the most effective policies at a local level.

Ernest Lessenger, Chief Platform Architect at Healthcare IT Leaders is a participant on Team IMPACT, a group of volunteer developers that are among 48 finalists picked in January from a group of 104 semifinalists in 28 countries.

The teams in the competition were given access to foundational models from Cognizant’s Evolutionary AI team and data compiled by Oxford University’s COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. Cognizant is the lead sponsor of the competition. In the initial phase, teams were tasked with developing and testing a prediction model that could anticipate global spikes in COVID-19 infections.

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Lessenger’s role on Team IMPACT was to gather supporting outside data sets from commercial and open sources and prepare them for use in the team’s machine learning models.

“We were selected based on our ability to accurately predict infection rates using real data,” Lessenger said. “Now, the finalists are being asked to take our models one step further and recommend appropriate government response, again based on real data, which balances infection and death rates against economic impact and feasibility.”

These plans, says Lessenger, should be designed to help policymakers, health officials, and business leaders made data-driven decisions around COVID-19.

Judging for the final phase of the competition will take place from Feb. 3 to 25, with a winner expected to be announced on Friday, Feb. 26. A total of $500,000 will be awarded to the winning teams, with prizes given to teams with the most accurate predictive models for daily COVID-19 cases and with the prescriptive models that best minimize infection cases and economic costs to communities.

Founded in 1994, the XPRIZE Foundation is a nonprofit that sponsors global competitions to find innovative solutions to large-scale challenges. Past competitions in healthcare have focused on sensor technology, genome sequencing, and diagnostic tools.

“Ernest and his group are aptly named Team IMPACT,” commented Healthcare IT Leaders Principal, Bob Bailey. “Their innovations could significantly reduce the length and severity of the current global pandemic.”