This week’s Health 2.0 conference was held for the first time in Washington, DC, plunging Health 2.0’s community of IT geeks into the heart of the land of policy wonks. The feds’ Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, joked about the gap between the two cultures: where the Health 2.0 crowd says “there’s an app for that,” the government says “there’s a form for that.”
Chopra and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services outlined their goals and plans related to health IT and extended an invitation for the two communities to work together more closely. The feds described a transformation of the economy and an improvement in the lives of Americans, and gave examples of initiatives that open access to health data and/or provide incentives for innovative uses of it, including:
- The Blue Button Initiative – A CMidentifying S and VA initiative that lets consumers download data for use in a personal health record (PHR)
- Pillbox An NLM and FDA program releasing data that helps in pills
- VAi2 — An $80 million VA innovation competition focused on areas including telehealth and adverse drug events
- Community Health Data Initiative — An HHS and IOM initiative that releases data sets about communities (and which provides the data for the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge).
- Apps for Healthy Kids A White House competition to create software tools and games toimporve kids’ health
As the Department of Health’s Farzad Mostashari said to the crowd, “We’re watching. We want to learn. Show us what is possible.”
But not everyone was impressed. Jamie Heywood of the online health community PatientsLikeMe bristled at the idea that technology entrepreneurs should step up and fix problems that rightly belong to government, such as collecting and analyzing better population health data. “Don’t look to us to save you,” he said, arguing that the feds need to build better markets for innovation. He has said, for example, that government could offer to buy data generated by the private sector that furthers public health goals.