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The X-Prize Comes to the Nursing Home

(Photo: Bill Rhodes)

We once put out a podcast called “Reading, Rockets, and ‘Rithmetic,” about how competition and prizes help drive innovation. Among the examples were the federal education program Race to the Top; Google’s “20 percent time” policy; and the X-Prize Foundation, whose founder and chairman, Peter Diamandis, remains one of my favorite radio guests ever, full of vigor and wisdom and optimism. (We’ll soon be featuring a Q&A on this blog with Diamandis and Steven Kotler, coauthors of the new book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.)

I’m happy to report that I am hardly the only person to be inspired by Diamandis. We recently got the following e-mail from David Sedgwick, an executive with a nursing-home company called the Ensign Group:

I love listening to your podcasts during my early-morning runs or bike rides.  It was during a long pre-work bike ride over a year ago when I heard the “Reading, Rockets, and Rithmetic” episode that talked about the X-Prize.  Something triggered in my mind and I knew my company needed to do something like the X-Prize for our industry.  Because if any industry needs to be transformed, it’s ours … nursing homes.

When I got to the office that day I got our company started on a journey that is just now reaching its climax.  We called the competition the “eprize” (E for Ensign … the organization’s name is The Ensign Group). The eprize is a year-long $150,000 competition among our 100+ nursing homes in 10 states to “transform the day-in-the-life of our residents” by re-working the systems of institutional care delivery that we all follow b/c of the regulations.  I just wrote a post on my blog about it here. And here‘s the competition website which now has the eprize applications posted for the world to see.

In this case, your work led to changes in the delivery of long-term care that will likely benefit hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents and patients.

I have no idea whether or how this competition will truly improve outcomes for Ensign patients and staff but it’s thrilling to see Diamandis’s vision being applied in the real world.