Last week marked Washington, DC Health Innovation Week (#dchealth), featuring events attended by individuals from inside and outside the health industry, including entrepreneurs, technologists, doctors and government officials.
Activities for the week included HealthCampDC, an un-conference about “Vitality Through Data,” the Health 2.0 developer challenge code-a-thon, and the Healthcare Innovation Summit, designed to bring together leaders in the health and information technology spaces to address the challenges and opportunities to improving healthcare through innovation.
The week’s main event was the second annual Health Data Initiative Forum (#healthapps), hosted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Forum sought to encourage the development of apps that use government data sets to help people and communities make more informed health decisions. The Forum showcased 45 winning health IT applications (PDF) developed with HHS’ newly-available data and an exposition where participants could identify opportunities to expand upon current efforts.
Several Edelman colleagues were in attendance covering the events live in DC or attended screenings at satellite meet-ups. Tweets from some of these individuals were aggregated on EdelmanDigital.com.
Coming out of Health Innovation Week, here are some of the team’s thoughts.
View from the Top
At the Health Data Initiative (HDI) Forum, HHS “rockstar,” Todd Park, CTO at HHS, took the stage to talk about how open health data and innovation can improve America’s health. He stated that the goal is a self-propelled open ecosystem of data that improves health and fuels an arsenal of innovators. He also presented some of the new HHS data information websites that make data more accessible by making them machine-readable, downloadable, accessible via application programming interfaces (APIs), free, and vastly easier to find – the websites include: the HealthData.gov community, the Health Indicators Warehouse and HealthCare.gov.
In The Works Already
Many individuals and organizations are already benefiting from this open source data through websites such as PatientsLikeMe.com, which is expanding its role in clinical trial recruitment through a new feature helping to match patients with relevant clinical trials. During the Forum, one technology that sparked a lot of attention was Ozioma, which pulls data from more than 65 sources to provide health media professionals and journalists with fast access to local health data and information. Additionally, Ozioma produces content from data searches in sentence format that can be dropped directly into a pitch or story, providing a local story angle within a matter of minutes.
Up for a Challenge?
Throughout the day at the HDI Forum, there were no less than six major announcements made relating to application development challenges, with an aim to “accelerate and promote the use of open government data and to spark innovation in the healthcare community.” For example, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced the Investing in Innovations (i2) Initiative to promote innovation in health IT and the NCI set forth a challenge for developers to use public data to create applications that integrate new technologies into existing platforms that advance cancer prevention and control. To get the i2 Initiative started, Health 2.0 and Capital Consulting Corporation were awarded nearly $5 million to fund projects supporting innovation. Additionally, Sanofi-Aventis (client) unveiled its innovation challenge: Data, Design, Diabetes. The challenge hopes to combat the diabetes epidemic by using open data to create informed diabetes solutions with the winner getting $100,000 and workspace at the Rock Health incubator in San Francisco.
Washington, DC Health Innovation Week was full of major announcements aiming to further spur innovation. At the close of the Forum, US Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and OrganizedWisdom announced StartUp Health, a strategic initiative designed to inspire, educate and provide resources for entrepreneurs to build sustainable health and wellness companies. To kick-off the initiative, StartUp Health will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions bringing entrepreneurs, investors and organizations together to help develop a roadmap leading from innovation to sustainable business. StartUp America CEO Scott Case will be co-hosting the discussions which roll-out in NYC starting in July. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation alluded to the future of open source data on its blog, asking, “Where are the apps that will crawl across the different data stores and pull it all together?” Perhaps StartUpHealth (or you?) can get us there.
The Future of Healthcare
At the end of the day/week, it was very apparent that there is a surge (or maybe even a tsunami) of healthcare innovation being driven by the government – an organization that one doesn’t typically associate with the words: “innovative,” “quick,” or “open.” However, with smart people in place – like Todd Park and Aneesh Chopra – who have taken their experience and entrepreneurial thinking from the private sector, combined with key partnerships with innovators like Tim O’Reilly and the Health 2.0 organization, amazing things can happen.
By recognizing the need to open (anonymized) government data to the general public and attract innovators and creative thinkers to work on health-related issues, they have created a framework for “leap-frogging” healthcare innovation and driven the interest for such advancements to a level which is usually reserved for tech/web2.0 startups and entrepreneurs. Let’s hope we can see such innovative thinking happen in other (private) sectors of healthcare as well.
Image credit: taedc
Disclosure: Health Innovation Week sponsor, Kaiser Permanente is an Edelman client.
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