August 2021 Update — we aren’t just “outing” the worst. Instead we are claiming to be the best: The reward now applies to any behavior-change vendor — diabetes, wellness etc. — vs. Quizzify. You get $3 million is yours is found by the 5 judges (and remember, we only appoint one!) to be better than Quizzify.
Here are the specific rules.
Almost any behavior-change vendor is eligible to claim the reward. A “behavior change” vendor would be one whose value depends on employees doing something voluntarily or with an incentive/penalty, paid via an admin fee. Eligible categories include wellness, diabetes, weight loss, mental health, sleep, coaching, EAPs, “challenges” programs, fitness, nutrition, navigation, patient-centered medical homes, and price-shopping companies.
We say “almost any” because behavior change vendors that we work with are ineligible because we help them dramatically increase engagement. For instance, Sera Prognostics enhances its guarantee if Quizzify is also used, and we enhance ours.
Whether a vendor fits into the category of behavior change should be self-evident. The best example of companies that add value not through voluntary behavior change would be alternative PBMs. Aside from a new card and presumable better terms, the change is invisible to the employee. The employee still gets drugs.
If indeed a vendor considers itself to be a behavior change company and Quizzify looks at it and says, no, this is not behavior change, the vendor may announce that Quizzify rejected their application. The vendor may then apply to the Validation Institute to arbitrate whether it is a behavior change company or not. If it wins, Quizzify agrees to pay for its validation.
Selection of Judges
There will be five judges, selected as follows:
- Each side gets to appoint one, drawn from Brian Klepper’s listserve with almost 1000 people on it, from all walks of healthcare.
- Two are appointed objectively. That will be whichever health services researchers/health economists are the most influential at the time the reward is claimed. “Most influential” will be measured by a formula: the highest ratio of Twitter followers/Twitter following, with a minimum of 15,000 followers.
- Those four judges will agree on the fifth.
Using the criteria below, the judging will be based largely on value per dollar of the program spent on the program and incentives. In the event this is considered to be roughly a tie, the judges will consider the validity of their measurement and whether they are validated by the Validation Institute.
Each side submits up to 2,000 words and five graphs, supported by as many as 20 links; the material linked must pre-date this posting to discourage either side from creating linked material specifically for this contest.
Publicly available materials from the lay media or blogs may be used, as well as from any of the 10 academic journals with the highest “impact factors,” such as Health Affairs, published within the last five years.
Each side must:
- list their average prices;
- speak to compliance with ACA, ADA, USPSTF, and Choosing Wisely;
- allow the other to test its materials (for example, taking the health risk assessment) and review them as part of the submission.
Each party may separately cite previous invalidating mistakes made by the other party that might speak to the credibility of the other party. (There is no limit on those.)
The judges may rule just on the basis of the written submissions. If not, the parties will convene online for a 2.5-hour presentation (or, at the discretion of the judges, in-person at the World Health Care Congress), featuring:
- 10-minute opening statements, in which as many as 10 slides are allowed;
- 30-minute cross-examinations with follow-up questions and no limitations on subject matter;
- 60 minutes in which judges control the agenda and may ask questions of either party based on either the oral or the written submissions;
- Five-minute closing statements.
The entry process is:
- Applicant puts $3000 into escrow, at which point an NDA is signed and Quizzify/Quizzify guarantors (“Quizzify”) demonstrate liquid assets exceeding $3 million. Applicant may either go forward at this point, or forfeit the $3000.
- Applicant adds $27,000, at which point earning assets exceeding $3,000,000 are placed in escrow, though the income from the escrow does not go to the applicant. Assuming the $3,000,000 is sufficiently secured, applicant may either go forward, or forfeit the $30,000. If not secured, Quizzify pays the applicant $100,000.
- Applicant adds $270,000 to the escrow within 30 days, at which point the entry process is completed. Both sides then have 30 days to submit materials and 7 days to rebut. Online argument then takes place, if needed.
- Judges are paid from the escrow, 50-50 from Quizzify’s and applicant’s shares.
- If the applicant pulls out after publicly announcing he or she is applying and before adding the $270,000, there is a $50,000 liquidated damages fee, tripled if it has to be procured through litigation. If Quizzify pull outs, there is a $150,000 liquidated damages fee in favor of the applicant, tripled if it is procured through litigation.
- The winner collects the escrow.
June 2021 Update: Virgin Pulse’s one-page outcomes report is eligible. They can win just by defending one single slide with as much backup as they want.
March 2021 Update: Wellsteps can claim double the reward ($6 million) for half the entry fee ($150,000) simply by showing that their ROI calculator is more accurate than Quizzify’s.
January 2021 Update: Omada is claiming outcomes on their home page that are textbook examples of both regression to the mean and participant bias. They are aware this is not valid. They can claim this reward by defending their specious claims.
December 2020 Update: This reward is now applicable to any actuary or other self-proclaimed expert who claims that their published analyses of the wellness/diabetes/disease management industries showing favorable outcomes and savings are better than mine showing losses and general cluelessness.
As almost everyone in the wellness industry knows, we have offered a $2 million reward to anyone who can show that conventional annual “pry, poke and prod” wellness saves money. I’m feeling very generous today, what with the holidays upon us, so let’s make the reward $3 million.
Even more importantly, let’s loosen the rules — a lot — to encourage applicants. You’ll find the $3 million reward is not just more generous, but also far easier to claim than the previous $2 million reward.
Loosening the Rules
Except as indicated below, the rules stay the same as in the previous posting, but with the following relaxed standards. Most importantly, I’ll now accept the burden of persuasion. It is my job to convince the panel of judges, using the standard civil level of proof, that you are wrong, as opposed to you having to convince them that I am wrong.
Next, let’s expand the pool from which the judges can be drawn. It wasn’t very nice of me to allow you to choose from only the 300 people on Peter Grant’s exclusive healthcare policy listserve, since obviously no one invited into a legitimate healthcare policy listserve thinks wellness saves money.
In addition, you can also choose among the 200+ people on Brian Klepper’s email list and the 70 people on the Ethical Wellness email list. And to make it totally objective, we will add as judges whatever two bloggers happen to be the leading dedicated health services research bloggers at the time of the application for the award, as measured by the ratio of Twitter followers-to-Twitter-following, with a minimum of 15,000 followers.
So judges are chosen as follows: two bloggers chosen by objective formula, plus we each choose six people from among the other 520, with the other party having veto rights for 5 of them. That gives a total of 4 judges, who will choose a fifth from among those roughly 500 people.
This means I only name one of the five judges, so I can’t “stack the deck,” not that I would need to.
The original rules included the requirement of defending Wellsteps’ Koop Award. After all, the best vendor should be exemplary, right? A beacon for others to follow? A benchmark to show what’s possible when the best and brightest make employees happy and healthy?
However, now you have another option. You could instead just publicly acknowledge that the Koop Award committee is corrupt/incompetent, since that possibility cannot be ruled out as a logical explanation for Wellsteps winning that award. Your choice, but, one way or the other, the Wellsteps award must be addressed in your entry.
Next, you may bring as many experts with you to address the adjudication forum (a Washington, DC venue to be chosen later) as you wish to bring. I, on the other hand, will be limited to myself. (The judges may also, by a supermajority of 4 to 1, declare a winner, with no in-person presentation needed.)
Further, you no longer have to defend the proposition that wellness as a whole has saved money. You can, if you prefer, simply acknowledge that most of it has failed…except you. Meaning that, if you are a wellness vendor that has been “profiled” on this site in the last 2 years, you can limit your defense to your own specific results. You don’t have to defend the swamp.
That new loophole allows, specifically, Interactive Health, Fitbit, Wellness Corporate Solutions, and especially Wellsteps to get rich…if what I have said specifically about them is wrong. I have $3 million that says it isn’t.
Special Offer for HERO
Ah, yes, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). The belly of the beast.
Let me make them a special offer. Paul Terry, the current HERO Prevaricator-in-Chief, has accused me of the following (if you link, you’ll see they had enough sense not to use my name, likely on advice of counsel, given that I already almost sued them after they circulated their poison pen letter to the media):
I’m convinced responding to bloggers who show disdain for our field is an utter waste of time. I’ve rarely been persuaded to respond to bloggers [Editors note, in HERO-speak, “rarely” means “never” — except for that intercepted Zimmerman Telegram-like missive], and each time I did it affirmed my worry that, more than a waste, it’s counter-productive. That’s because they’ll not only incessantly recycle their original misstatements, but worse, they’ll misrepresent your response and use it as fodder for more disinformation.*
Tell ya what, Paul. let’s debate disinformation, including your letter.
I have asked you on multiple occasions to clue me in as to what my alleged disinformation actually is, if any. That way I can publicly apologize and fix it, should I choose to do so. Before applying for this award, you need to disclose this alleged disinformation. You can’t just go around saying my information is made up etc. without specifying what it is.
By definition, “disinformation” is deliberate misrepresentation. To my knowledge, as a member of the “integrity segment” of the wellness industry, I have never, and would never, spread disinformation.
On the other hand, if I did spread inadvertently incorrect information by mistake, it seems only fair to let me fix it — especially given that I have been totally transparent and generous with my time in explaining to you what yours is, and how to correct it. (I might have missed some. Keeping up with yours is a challenge of Whack a Mole-meets-White House press correspondent proportions.)
So perhaps it is time to man up, Mr. Terry. You and your cronies claim to have been collecting my “disinformation” for years, without disclosing any of it. I’m offering you a public forum and $3-million to present it…with only one of 5 judges on “my” side.
Otherwise, perhaps you should, in the immortal word(s) of the great philosopher Moe Howard, shaddap.
*As a side note, Mr. Terry writes: “We’re fortunate to work in an industry with a scant number of vociferous critics.” This “scant” number appears to include the entire media — left-wing, right-wing, centrist, and health policy. Apparently also most employees, according to Towers Watson. The good news about “pry, poke and prod” is that it truly bridges the partisan divide, in that everyone hates it.
Update February 20, 2018:
One of the very stable geniuses in the wellness industry has decided that the reason no one applies for this award isn’t that they know they’ll lose. It’s because a reward isn’t a valid offer. We would invite them to read this link.
This offer is completely legally binding. Anyone may claim the $3 million reward ($300,000 entry fee) for successfully convincing the arbitrator that it isn’t. Further, we agree in advance that if an arbitrator finds anything in here that keeps it from being legally binding, the arbitrator may rewrite it to his or her satisfaction in order to make this legally binding.
Update March to October 2018:
The new entry process is:
- Applicant puts $3000 into escrow (bank escrow fees to be 50-50 shared once escrow is completed), at which point an NDA is signed and I show tangible net worth (excluding primary and secondary residences — and any retirement accounts are accounted for net of tax penalty for early withdrawal) more than sufficient to pay the reward. Applicant may either go forward at this point, or forfeit the $3000 to me.
- Applicant adds $27,000, at which point earning assets exceeding $3,000,000 as valued at at lower of cost or mark-to-market are placed in escrow, and/or title is changed to the escrow agent, though I still receive the income until the reward is paid. If I fail to place that sum in escrow within 60 days, I pay a “liquidated damages” penalty of $100,000. The applicant is released from the NDA and may announce that I failed to deliver and they won by default. Assuming the $3,000,000 is sufficiently secured and the “liquidated damages” provision is not triggered, applicant may either go forward, or forfeit the $30,000 to me.
- Applicant adds $270,000 to the escrow within 30 days, at which point the entry process is completed, and the debate is held. Judges and expenses are paid out of the escrow.
- If the applicant pulls out after publicly announcing he or she is applying and before adding the $270,000, there is a $50,000 liquidated damages fee, tripled if it has to be procured through litigation. If I pull out, there is a $500,000 liquidated damages fee, tripled if it is procured through litigation.
- If I win the debate, the remaining escrow funds are released to me.
- If I lose the debate, the remaining escrow funds are released to the applicant.