J-PAL Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition

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The J-PAL Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition supports federal, state, and local government health agencies and other health care organizations in the United States in developing compelling and reliable evidence of innovative programs.

The competition supports the design and implementation of randomized evaluations of programs with the potential to serve as models for deploying health and social services to improve health outcomes and enhance the accessibility and affordability of quality health care.

The Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition is part of the J-PAL North America U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative (HCDI), which supports randomized evaluations of strategies that aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care in the United States. To date, studies funded by HCDI include studies of:

  • A pioneering care coordination program in Camden, New Jersey, in which social workers, nurses and community health workers provide high-utilizing patients with support for ongoing outpatient care and assistance in accessing social programs;
  • A flagship nurse home visiting program in South Carolina in which nurses support low-income, first-time mothers in having a healthy pregnancy and becoming knowledgeable and responsible parents;
  • Interventions providing cost and quality information to consumers on the California and Colorado health insurance exchanges; and
  • A workplace wellness program at a large U.S. employer that incentivizes workers to participate in a year-long package of programs, including team-based diet and exercise challenges, physical activity, nutrition counseling, and stress reduction.

Why Participate

Through this competition, health care leaders can apply for:

  1. Technical support in developing randomized evaluations to study innovative programs and answer important policy questions;
  2. $50,000 of flexible funding to help design and test the feasibility of these evaluations; and
  3. Partnerships with experienced researchers from J-PAL’s network to implement the evaluations.

Applicants that partner with a researcher from J-PAL’s network to design a high-quality randomized evaluation can apply for additional funding, typically in the range of $150,000 to $400,000, through the HCDI Request for Proposals. These applicants also may receive support in improving underlying data systems and analyzing and interpreting existing data.

Download a one-page overview of the initiative.

To see examples of how randomized evaluations can inform responses to important challenges in health care delivery, download the J-PAL Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition Policy Brief.


We hosted our first webinar to introduce the competition on April 15, 2016. View the webinar and slides.

We hosted our second webinar on May 19, 2016. We described the types of partnerships this competition aims to support. View the webinar and slides.

Partnership Examples

State of South Carolina
Nurse-Family Partnership Pay-For-Success Initiative

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) provides regular nurse home visits to low-income, first-time mothers through pregnancy and up to the first two years postpartum. South Carolina obtained a Medicaid waiver and generous philanthropic support to fund a landmark pay-for-success initiative that expanded NFP’s services to an additional 3,200 mothers in the state. The initiative tied South Carolina’s payment for the expanded services to the outcomes achieved by the program. South Carolina, NFP, and the initiative’s funders partnered with a research team led by J-PAL affiliate Katherine Baicker (Harvard) and supported by J-PAL staff to measure a number of “success indicators”, such as the program’s impact on reducing injuries among newborns and toddlers, as well as the potentially wide-ranging effects of NFP on the health and well-being of mothers and children for many years to come. Read more…

Center for Program Integrity - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Inappropriate prescribing of controlled substances

Policymakers in the United States are increasingly concerned about the health and financial impacts of inappropriate prescribing, particularly for opioid pain relievers such as morphine and oxycodone, and other controlled substances that carry a high risk for abuse and dependency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services partnered with the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, J-PAL co-Scientific Director Amy Finkelstein (MIT), and Adam Sacarny (Columbia) to test if sending informative letters to prescribers suspected of inappropriate prescription writing could reduce overprescribing of these drugs. This low-cost study, which found no evidence that the letters had an impact on prescribing rates, took less than a year to complete. Researchers are already testing a new letter to reduce questionable prescribing of Seroquel, a commonly prescribed antipsychotic. Read more…


Amy Finkelstein (MIT, Scientific Director, J-PAL North America)


Support is provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Instructions & Timeline

J-PAL North America invites health care leaders to submit a relatively brief letter of interest describing an innovative health care program that would benefit from a rigorous evaluation. Further details about how to apply can be found in the Request for Letters of Interest. For answers to common questions, download our Q&A.


Letters of interest should be submitted by June 17, 2016. We will accept additional letters of interest on a rolling basis but cannot guarantee that they will receive full consideration.

March 24, 2016 - Request for letters of interest announced
June 17, 2016 - Deadline to submit letters of interest
July 15, 2016 - Winners announced


Please email Competition Manager Jason Bauman.

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