Prediction Market Reveals Answer Well Ahead of Results
April 28, 2009 – Ingenix.com - Ingenix Thought Leadership – When trying to determine whether a product is priced right, a project will launch on schedule or the impact proposed health reforms will have, health care entities are considering a methodology that relies less on expert opinions and more on the intelligence of hundreds of people with diverse vantage points.
To determine the results of a key question – what will the employee engagement index be? — on an employee survey, Ingenix used the Prediction Market to gauge the outcome well in advance of the survey results being published. Within one day, the Prediction Market accurately forecasted the index. Prediction markets provides Ingenix’s clients with early and accurate quantitative data points on future events.
This methodology, known as “collective intelligence,” uses a “prediction market” to “unleash the collective wisdom of organizations and helps them gain a more accurate picture of what is going on in their organization and the industry,” according to Ron Hoffner, associate, Ingenix Consulting.
Prediction markets, defined in a recent BusinessWeek article as “bets on ideas,” ask groups of stakeholders the following question: “What do you think something is worth, and more important, what will it be worth tomorrow?”1 The groups’ answers have proven to be accurate most of the time, the article goes on to say. “When groups of people bet on something, their combined intelligence is often remarkably prescient.”2
Hoffner agrees. “There is an old Japanese proverb that states ‘None of us is as smart as all of us,’ and we are finding more and more that this is true,” he said. Recent academic research has shown that using a market to forecast demand results in a significant improvement in forecast accuracy when compared to traditional methods.3 The result, Ingenix believes, is that health care programs can better predict which programs are the most likely to succeed.
Another area where prediction markets can add significant value is providing quantitative data on the impact proposed health reforms will have on the industry. “What we are doing is asking a variety of people with different perspectives – who traditionally have not been included in the discussion – for their input,” Hoffner said, “For really the first time, we are going to have quantitative data on the impact of these proposed health reforms that participating organizations can use for planning.”
Prediction markets harness viewpoints, intelligence
One of the flaws of traditional forecasting is that it generally relies on historical data to make predictions about upcoming events and results. Many years ago, a wise man once said, “You can never plan the future by the past.”4 Indeed, Hoffner asserted, using historical data to determine the future assumes that the environment stays the same. However, the health care environment is rapidly changing and traditional methods that use historical data do not account for these changes. The result is forecasts with greater uncertainty.
“To illustrate this point,” Hoffner said, “let’s assume historical data shows two variables are related, such as gas prices and sports utility vehicle (SUV) sales. When gas prices go up, the sales of SUVs go down; conversely, when gas prices go down, SUV sales should pick up. However, they haven’t, so the forecast of SUV sales ended up being higher than the actual SUV sales results. It is clear that how variables are related in the future can change.” These changes can come from a variety of sources, such as social changes or government regulations, he explained.
Prediction markets also may be more reliable because they aggregate and consolidate data “from many individuals, often widely dispersed, each with access to small, idiosyncratic bits of relevant information.”5 In a prediction market, companies ask stakeholders from across the spectrum to voice their opinions about future events and milestones by buying “stock” or using points to register their “vote,” according to Hoffner.
“Let’s say a company wants to determine how many people will sign up for their four health plans and if a new wellness program will decrease absenteeism. This is their prediction market. They give stakeholders points to assign to the different questions in the market based on their own views,” he said. “If they have a lot of confidence in the issue, they will assign more points to their answer, so instead of just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from a survey where everyone has equal influence, people with more confidence in their view have more influence by assigning more points in the market.”
Another improvement prediction markets offer over traditional surveys is that participants are rewarded for being right. The result of answering a question right is the participant earning points. At the end of a quarter, for example, those with the highest number of points would receive an award. This results in participants seeking information on programs, which leads to increased awareness of them.
Further, because the information derived from these diverse sources is contributed on an anonymous basis, the data collected also may be more truthful than if solicited in person. A lower-level employee with relevant exposure to an issue being carefully tracked by the company likely would not feel comfortable telling – or even be invited to tell — his or her boss’ boss about existing problems that might affect forecasts. However, that employee likely would honestly report an experience-based lack of confidence in meeting a future target date in the prediction markets setting.
“Prediction market data fills a lot of information holes, especially when there are many unknown variables, because the diversity of ‘players’ leads to different views and different perspectives that can help reduce uncertainty,” Hoffner suggested. “It lets management know how confident people are in a given forecast while still retaining control over the final decision.”
Expanding use, value of prediction markets
Ingenix believes that prediction markets can help health care entities bridge data gaps so they can “see more and do more,” Hoffner said, so it has forged an exclusive partnership with prediction market pioneer Consensus Point to offer prediction market services to Ingenix clients. These clients either pose questions to an Ingenix prediction market or consult with Ingenix experts to build or improve a prediction market of their own.
“Although collective intelligence is not new, today we are taking that intelligence to the next level, where more value can be derived from it,” Hoffner explained. Ingenix Prediction Markets will combine prospective data from employers, brokers, consultants, providers, payers and academics with longitudinal data from Ingenix’s repositories of patient claims and consumer surveys to provide industry-leading market forecasts of how trends, such as health care reform efforts, will impact the health care industry.”
Prediction markets give Ingenix “the ability to let our clients know what’s out there and what’s coming down the road – in a way that is more accurate than any other trends method – so they can better manage their business,” Hoffner concluded. “Our approach to prediction markets is that Ingenix is providing clients with real-time focus groups that we are calling a ‘living leadership forum.’ Any changes in the views of the group and the marketplace are quickly detected, which means businesses are rarely caught off guard.”
1 Kunz, Ben, “Prediction Markets Meet Wall Street,” BusinessWeek (Oct. 14, 2008)
4 Burke, Edmund (1729-1797).
5 Consensus Point, “What is a Prediction Market?” (Web site accessed April 1, 2009). ,” uses a “prediction market” to “unleash the collective wisdom of organizations and helps them gain a more accurate picture of what is going on in their organization and the industry,” according to Ron Hoffner, associate, Ingenix Consulting.