Another year, another Health 2.0 Shindig

Sitting here on Amtrak train 14 --- the Coast Starlight that runs from Los Angeles up to Seattle (I jumped on in Portland for a quick four hour ride home). It’s a wonderful trip, so completely different than the ridiculous cattle call that is travelling by air. Just puts me in a good mood (all the more so when combined with a surprisingly good steak dinner and a couple of Bud Lights).

I spent the early part of the week at Health 2.0 San Francisco --- participated in a fun panel on Monday about “platforms” for health applications along with folks from Aetna, AT&T and Qualcomm. I wanted to make a statement about how hard we work to make it easy for developers to build on our stuff --- so my demo was to open up XCode and build a HealthVault app for the iPhone in two minutes. Happily (and thanks to good prepping by Umesh), it came off without a hitch. If you’d like to see the code and try it yourself --- check it out on github. Extra fun because of all the people who goggle over a Microsoft guy working on iOS like it’s new for us … we’ve been a cross-platform company for a long time, even before Microsoft *hired me* to write code for the Mac in 1991. Next up --- Windows 8!

It was also fun to get to know Martha and the folks from Aetna CarePass --- they are true believers and I am looking forward to working with them. We agreed that sharing data between CarePass and HealthVault is a no-brainer --- so expect to see some progress on that soon.

Another highlight for me was the Blue Button mashup competition --- our great friends at Get Real Consulting took third place by showing how the HealthVault BB import functionality can be integrated with their Instant PHR product --- and more importantly how they can turn the BB data into real insight and education for folks. I am a huge fan of the Get Real team --- more than anyone, they’re figuring out how to leverage the functionality within HV to benefit their customers (guys, I even talked about your relationship with MediGuard at Oregon Bio this morning!).

But I do have to say --- there was a little undercurrent of “tired” at H20 this year. There is so much hype around the San Francisco crowd, and the reality is that this is business is hard, and it needs people willing to stick it out beyond the two-year venture cycle. As I’ve said since we started HealthVault, that’s exactly WHY I came back to Microsoft to start the project. Microsoft knows that building ecosystems takes time, and frankly we need help from the payment system as well. It is inevitable --- but it takes conviction and a little courage.

Fixing health can’t be flavor-of-the-month. If you’re going to be part of this journey with us --- do your homework, build on the work others have done, learn from failure and success --- and it will be worth it. On the other hand, if you’re just in it for the exit … I hear there’s still good money in online porn. ;)

[Updated 10/10 to make the Windows 8 link point at Ali's blog announcement]