As the Affordable Care Act continues it’s path of implementation, healthcare providers are left wondering: “What’s next?” Facing shrinking revenues due to falling reimbursement rates from payers and increasing costs due to increasingly advanced technology & medicines being brought to bear, what can providers do to stem the squeezing and stay profitable?
I’ve been participating in some of the reviews for applications to present at the Health Data Initiative Forum on June 9 sponsored by the Institute of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. I gotta say, it is a lot of fun being the evaluator and hearing some really passionate entrepreneurs describe their health technology projects.
Many of the apps/teams/projects being presented are early-stage ideas, ones that are in the prototyping phase (but past the “just an idea” phase). It’s actually been incredibly interesting watching the teams pitch their prototypes and apps on how to improve public health. Many of the projects are awesome and impactful – but sadly I’ve got no money to invest in these projects. In fact, I don’t think the government should play the role of an investor – this is tax-payer money after all and should be used somewhat conservatively. However, the one thing the Department can do is help connect the projects with the right people to make things happen. For example, we can make connections between app developers, government agencies, and industry players where some of their apps can be supported or be distributed to more users.
So what do I personally look for when reviewing the pitches?
- Does the project fulfill a demonstrated need and provide a tangible benefit to users?
- Are customers better off after utilizing your project?
- Sustainability and scalability – does the project have potential beyond your prototype or beta-test base?
- How far along are you – are you just an idea or did you make something?
Check out my talk on HealthData.gov at the D.C. Health 2.0 STAT event this February!
As Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services writes on the inaugural blog post, “HealthData.gov is a one-stop resource for the growing ecosystem of innovators who are turning data into new applications, services, and insights that can help improve health.”
Read more below:
This is it – it’s time for the Community Heath Data Forum! Packed house at the National Academy of Sciences with some real heavy hitters in attendance. Both Secretary Sebelius and Deputy Secretary Corr from the Department of Health and Human Services are here today. I’m definitely looking forward to the presentations and the Expo afterward.
Dr. Finberg giving the opening talk of this event. It definitely sounds like this is going to be a great event.
“Community Health Data Initiative is a perfect expression of those ideals of government”
“People in communities can improve the quality of their healthcare and healthcare system if they have the information to do it” – Secretary Sebelius. This initiative combines two of the most important goals of the Obama Administration. Transparency and Participation seems to be the key themes around this project and all things going forward. “Transform fee for survice into a quality purchaser” – this really is where health reform meets open government. That’s absolutely right, we need to ensure that the American public know what they’re purchasing.
This event is featuring a jab, punch, uppercut combo of Dr. Fineberg, Secretary Sebelius and Dep. Secretary Corr. In less than 12 weeks a whole new of health applications were put togther: that’s pretty amazing stuff. I got to say, it’s the video games that I’m most looking forward to!
HHS is planning on launching a data warehouse website that will feature easily downloadable data that can be incorporated into websites and applications. What really is special is that HHS is letting the innovators take control of the data and do what they want with it. That is really the value of innovation: letting the entrepreneurs come and try stuff out.
Palantir’s presentation focuses in on Texas’s data. They’re comparing child poverty data with other data sets that might have relationships to one another. There is a relationship between child poverty and teen birth rate across the US. After removing the data, this relationship still holds in Texas. Palantir is able to search services available to the population. Amazing – the example shows that the areas with high levels of child poverty have low access to Boys and girls clubs, and also access to hospitals with acute care.
Android decided to mess up. Pictures will be uploaded later. As an aside – can’t wait for Froyo…
Bing has incorporated healthcare survey data and patient reports right into their map application and their search applications for hospitals. This is pretty awesome. Comparison of the data layer with the location of supermarkets successfully shows areas that might be underserved.
Sonoma County Network of Care utilizes health data to determine how to create a platform for change / health conscious community.
Next Generation Policy Making – The Move Toward Online Collaboration & Open Government by … tons of people ….
What does OpenGovernment mean? I hope this session is good, there’re so much issues between Policy and the Open Government directive. Let’s make it happen!
National Academy of Public Administration indicated that they’ve got some direct assistance for agencies and a collaboration project of federal agencies (looks like I need to join). Problem -> Community -> Tools. What is the problem? Who is the community? How can I assess their ideas and priorities? Great ideas, let the business need drive the process. This is definitely something that we’ve been trying to do with our partners at D. HHS.
What do other people get for participating? Get some awards and incentives for the folks contributing their best and brightest ideas!
I hate that the government is so big that I have no clue what is going on even within HHS. ePolicyWorks Health Care is a pretty cool tool that is actively used by the Department of Health and Human Services. How did this slip underneath my radar? I gotta get talking to the folks who are helping to put this program into practice. It uses Microsoft SharePoint 2007, heck we’ve got it goin’ on too, so we definitely should be able to take full advantage of it to create a similar site for a P&C Menu of tools. Looks like it’s Section 508 compliant already to boot. You gotta be kidding me, this is fantastic stuff. If single sign-on actually goes live, we could be in business!
First Thing We Do, Let’s Friend All the Lawyers by Elizabeth Hochberg, Hope O’Keefe
Engage the lawyers first so that things can be sped up during the process. Pretty decent advice, engage with the people who may have a say in your project early on. I think this is very useful information, we need to engage with lawyers early on to bring them in on our side. The risk of not including a lawyer upfront means jail, job loss, or a lawsuit =(. Gov 2.0 is government property? If it’s free it’s a gift? Dang, this is complicated! Everything on apps.gov is free for government as well as free for others, otherwise there’re problems. Wait, what about Uservoice and Ideascale? Well, apparently the government can negotiate a market rate of … zero…
This is interesting – multi-year agreements usually get cut back to one year with additional option years because the Antideficiency Act says we can’t promise to pay for something unless we have money in hand. That’s good to know! Everytime someone posts on Facebook, it’s not a record… ooo.. records management, the boogeyword!! We need to figure out the issues with moderation and user generated content. If something is put up that you don’t like, it doesn’t mean you can just take it down.
Facebook is featured in this session. There’s a negotiated terms of service for the Federal government. Examples include taking off the advertisements and being incredibly responsive to GSA (supposedly). The problem is the actual page versus the community page. Community pages are using logos without trademark permission, lifting content straight from wikipedia. I never thought about the fact that FB was violating trademarks and copyright by creating community pages. “Conversations are ongoing…” For all those complaining about Facebook’s privacy issues, this is a great argument to make. Diaspora* could be making headway?
Key thing: Federal Government cannot negotiate laws. Companies can negotiate policies. Guess who will win?
Start of the Day
Day 3 of the expo. I’m actually a little sad that’s it’s almost over, there’s been some really great speakers and conferences here. I’m looking forward to a session on friending lawyers followed by next generation policy making. After that are the keynote speakers featuring none other than the bossman himself, Todd Park, speaking on “How Open Data Can Improve America’s Health.” Duke University’s very own Sonal Shah will be speaking on “Participation and Innovation in America.” All said and done though, I’m crossing my fingers to win an iPad (just in time for Lambda Phi Epsilon’s National Convention too)!
Expo Booth Crawl with David Hale
I played a bit of hooky and went on a booth crawl with David to see if I could round up some free stuff. Yes, the days of free stuf from college fairs is far from over! Palantir had some awesome coffee mugs, but even better than that was the conversation we all had. They were really interested in playing with Pillbox and getting engaged in some CHDI stuff – I think they’ve convinced me that I need to go to that conference, and also to Health 2.0. There’s so much cool, collaborative, and innovative stuff that’s going on it’s just hard to keep up with it all! One thing that I do especially love about conferences is the free beer….. Can’t beat anything that’s free as in beer.
Working Transparently at the Bottom of the Government – Debra Louison Lavoy and Michael Edson
This is cool. There’s some great stuff coming out of the Smithsonian and some great information on how to spur this from the bottom up. I think that really is the most important thing though, working from the bottom up. Managers can’t do it all, it’s got to come from the employees who are engaged with the citizens. I hope I can find the transcript and the slides for this online somewhere!
I got completely distracted at lunch and left for an Indian restaurant next to Hooters in Chinatown. Yes… yes I know what I said makes very little sense.
Had a great talk with the social media frontrunners / open government ninjas of the Dept of Health and Human Services. Absolutely fantastic. I think I’m coming away from this conference with some great ideas to really foster some great collaborations across the Department. Let’s see how far this goes!
Open Government Ninja 101 – David Hale
Slides & transcript available here (got it from David’s twitter).
I finally got to meet several folks that I’ve been talking to with regard to OpenGovernment initiatives (David Hale included). This is a great talk to start the morning (afternoon).
David’s going through the features of Pillbox, a great application that allows the public to identify and learn about pills. He just showed a screenshot of “pharmvillerx” – hilarious!
Through the participation of outside developers, the National Library of Medicine has successfully seen outside groups solve challenges through the use of putting data out to the public.
David’s giving a history lesson of ninjas, tying it into Open Government. =).
Some concepts: Use existing tools in new and exciting ways. Shoutout to Andrew Wilson’s use of a RSS aggregator to combine the random RSS feeds that spaghetti out of the Department of Health and Human Services. Data needs to be structured to become contextually relevant to the users, not to be compliant with regulations.
Check it out: http://www.webcontent.gov/
This probably is the most important thing that David discusses (I’m paraphrasing a bit): “Your citizens are the CONTEXT experts.” Activity: Get out of the office and engage with citizens! Not everyone has access to technology, this will help program owners understand how users use data. David Hale suggests creating personas, this definitely sounds a lot like the Geico customer profiles that hang from the walls at the Geico corporate office when I used to work there. Community engagement: ask for help! Need champions to help out.
Users don’t necessarily need data sets – maybe the idea is that we need API’s. This sounds like a fantastic idea – instead of dumping loads and loads of data onto the web, why not release the API? I think David’s API Catalog vision is awesome, I hope it comes true.
Running a secret project? Heck it sounds like it should apply to any project. Mission aligned, small and iterative, fail fast, have cover, management buy-ins. The key concepts to pretty much any project.
Single most important aspect of Pillbox’s success? Collaboration. Moving beyond IT and health, how can one use collaboration to better do the things we do on a day to day basis? Government, nonprofit, profit, or even in random life?
Updates from Day 2:
You’ll notice more in depth updates. I brought my laptop today instead of relying on my phone.