Health Data: Dream Bigger!

Over the last few months I’ve been exposed to a plethora of healthcare technology apps through my personal research and while working on HealthData.gov.  I think that a lot of these applications are great, and they present information to consumers in a new or more useful way.  But as I look through more and more of these apps, I can’t help but start to see patterns and similarities in the things being developed.

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D.C. Health 2.0 STAT Logo

Revolutionizing Data Access: HealthData.gov

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.”

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Gov 2.0 Expo Live Blog Day 3

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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!

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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)!

Gov 2.0 Expo Live Blog Day 2

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!

Lunch…

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 101David 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.

Gov 2.0 Expo Live Blog Day 1

Cloud 101 by Alistair Croll
Finally!  Another Canadian.  Alistair’s presentation had the right mix of Canadian humor, arrested development, and tech speak to make it definitely worthwhile to stick it through the late afternoon.  I also have to apologize for updating this late, real life tends to get in the way of my blogging.  Alistair’s presentation on Cloud 101 was fantastic, covering the different paradigms of cloud computing, ranging from private to public clouds and also from infrastructure as a service, to platforms as a service, to software as a service.  I  believe he is putting the presentation up on Bitcurrent, and I’ll definitely link to it if I can.  It’s a great overview/introduction on Cloud computing.

Mission Possible: Putting Linked Government Data on the Web by Sandro Hawks and John Sheridan
I actually had the good fortune to sit next to one of the W3C folks giving this talk at lunch, which gave me a precursor to this meeting. So what is linked data? Linked data uses web identifiers, publishes information as web resources and uses triples to describe the data. This allows us to bring information together, in a publish it first and figure it out later kind of way (ensuring a publishing standard of course). The use of linked data by the government leads to responsible publishing, meaning that the original context of the data doesn’t change. I thought this was a really great and interesting concept. One idea that was floated during lunch was to put all the data being reported online and in the public domain. This would mean all the information the states etc. submit to the federal government would automatically be availble to everyone. That’s a pretty cool forward thinking idea. Something else that I learned that was cool was that something can be posted online in different formats and clients can pick the best format for them to use through client negotiation. Pretty cool stuff!

Creating a Social Media Strategy by Dan Zarella
My main takeaway from this talk was pthat ideas spread because of people, not because they’re good, funny or gimmicky. There was some really greater observations about memes and memetics. A good explanation of what makes something popular on Facebook and twitter was done through data driven means, which I liked. Mainly people spread ideas because of personal relevance, so the idea is to make ideas relevant by figuring out what people care about and mashing it up to create relevant content pieces. I am going to try looking for the slides, this was a cool presentation on social media strategy.

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“Navigating the Maze” by Carolyn Lawson
My main takeaway from this talk was that social media policies needed to be interactive with other policies. The idea that people drove social media, not technology, and that this was really a significant cultural revolution in the way business is being run was put forth. Social media is a part of the workplace, there’s really no turning back. Public servants need to embrace the idea that they are public servants 24/7, and even if it’s after hours what they say could be misconstrued. To change management thinking on social media, it is best to point to best practices.

Good websites:
http://govsocmed.pbworks.com/
http://government20bestpractices.pbworks.com/

My Schedule:
9:00 – “Navigating the Maze”
10:45 – “Creating a Social Media Strategy: The Data Shows Why It’s Important”
1:15 – “Mission Possible: Putting Government Linked Open Data on the Web”
3:00 – “Cloud 101”

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I’m going to be live blogging the events of the Gov 2.0 Expo as they happen! Updates will appear up top, I hope everyone enjoys!