Report From Health Datapalooza IV

Datapalooza IV was all about collaboration, open solutions, and innovation.  Remember this magical formula:  Collaboration + Open Solutions = Innovation

A major theme running throughout the two day conference was that disruptive change brought about by innovations in technology and 'open' health data use will revolutionize the ways healthcare providers and  consumers communicate and make everyday choices about health and wellness. 

Datapalooza started four years ago with only 400 people attending that initial gathering. Last week, over 2,000 people attended Datapalooza IV. At this latest event, the creation of “Health Datapalooza  Connect" was announced. It is a new and 'open' interactive platform designed to help people find opportunities to collaborate on innovative solutions.

Todd Park, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) for the U.S., identified three priorities for the healthcare community. (1) to keep bringing creativity to bear; (2) to help put patient's personal data into their own hands; and (3) to adopt 'Blue Button Plus' and associated tools to help patient's create apps that better meet their unique personal needs.

Health Datapalooza IV followed closely upon the May 9th release of the President's Executive Order establishing an Open Data Policy.  The new policy declares that information is a valuable national asset whose value is multiplied when it is made easily accessible to the public.  The Executive Order requires that, going forward, data generated by the government be made available in open, machine-readable formats, while appropriately safeguarding privacy, confidentiality, and security.

Other keynote speakers, industry leaders, and senior officials at Health Datapalooza underscored the transformation taking place in healthcare related to the use of disruptive technologies and solutions -  achieving 'meaningful use' EHRs, mobile health (mHealth) technologies, remote access to patient data,  decision making analytics, and other innovations that are fast changing the organization and management of healthcare delivery.

Brian Sivak, CTO of the  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) highlighted that further innovation and transformation is required to enable people to track, record and use data to better manage personal health. He called upon every person in the field working in the ecosystem to make the transformation happen through the power of data.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human (HHS), said, “We can now leapfrog over years of inertia.” She explained that "unlocking our data is the best possible way to support the engagement of consumers.”

Secretary Sebelius also announced that hospital cost data is being released by HHS on 30 additional medical procedures. She said “We are inspired by the kinds of tools and apps that will use this data for creating change. More open machine readable data has come out of HHS in the last year than ever. Everybody is working together to get new ideas back into to market.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health of the United Kingdom (UK), recognized the great leap forward the U.S. is achieving by its policy and actions related to 'open' health data.  He underscored that bringing to bear the positive power of the business sector and modern technology will dramatically transform healthcare in the coming years. When it comes to health care innovation, he said the UK is using the power of data to be transformative - to putting patients in the driver's seat to make better choices with regards to their own health.

Some of the leading UK technology programs now in deployment are allowing doctors and patients to see the entire record, sequencing genomes integrated with EHRs for a total transformation across the population, combining telehealth and telemedicine and most importantly putting people in control of knowing about their own healthcare.

Here are some other quick observations and notes taken during the conference:

• Jonathan Bush, entrepreneur and co-founder of Athenahealth, pitched his strong endorsement for open data.
• The more rapid development of Blue Button Plus was featured as one of the HHS public-private sector developments prominent for opening patient health data. 
• Dr, Nirav Shah, New York State Health Commissioner was recognized by the Datapalooza’s Health Data Consortium for his March 2013 launch of the nation’s first open data site,
• One of several health data competition awards announced during the conference was the Heritage Health Prize competition for data analytics. The winning team was team POWERDOT.  They came closest to meeting the contest's goal of producing a system that accurately predicts which patients are at high risk of hospital readmission. 

Finally, CTO Todd Park’s remarks summarized things well, stating “there has never been a better time to be an innovator at the intersection of health, data and IT.”