Double the Inspiration!

Two pretty interesting trips over the last couple of weeks … first, the folks at CHIEF (Canada’s Health Informatics Executive Forum) invited me up for a keynote discussion over Memorial Day weekend in Toronto --- and then last week I was in DC for the IOM Health Data Initiative Forum, where I got to help judge entries in the most recent “Health Apps” challenge.  

The CHIEF folks were a great group --- a bunch of senior level execs that really know the industry and clearly have a lot of history with each other. The topic for the evening was “The Next Wave of Investments in Health,” which I posited as:

  • Health System Data Use (the “payoff” for all the work done around data collection),
  • Consumer Engagement, and
  • Cloud-based computing.

My speechifying was fine I guess --- but the really fun part came afterwards as the group posed a bunch of really great questions. Top of mind was timeline --- general agreement about where things are heading, but heartburn about investing too early on the curve. The cool thing is that I’m now able to pull out a ton of specific examples to show that, done smart, these things are all real and can pay off today. SO awesome to have those stories in the quiver!

There was also a surprising level of frustration about the generally poor state of user experience in healthcare apps. I got beat up a bit for HSG’s lackluster support for CUI, but the good news is that I was able to give a bit of a wink on that one --- we’re getting there!

People were really intrigued with the investments we’re making around using the cloud for computation and “big data” storage, especially around imaging. Not having an Azure cluster on Canadian soil is a tough problem; on the surface it shouldn’t matter, but politics always trail technology, and concerns about data sovereignty aren’t going to go away. More work to do there.

Did I mention I got to stay at the Rogers Centre, in a room where I could look directly out over the field? Coolest hotel room --- EVER.


Then last week, I got to participate in another great event --- the second annual Health Data Initiative Forum. Clearly this is an idea that is taking hold. Last year was just showing the promise, and I was frankly concerned that I was just going to be looking at a lot of what I call “iStuff” --- shiny and shallow animations that don’t really help. Wow was I wrong. We saw real apps integrated into real workflows, using public data in really meaningful ways. It was super-inspiring.

My personal favorites:

Asthmapolis is a hardware-software combo that tracks when and where folks are using their rescue inhalers. The patterns are useful not only to support individuals in understanding their level of control, but also to show where the “hotspots” in a community are that can cause attacks.

Ozioma is a fantastic resource for folks looking to identify local health statistics and trends, primarily for use in the media. What was really cool to me about Ozioma was how thoughtfully the data had been intertwined with the workflow of building an article or presentation --- really nice work.

There were a ton of other super entrants --- PatientsLikeMe did a great clinical trials integration (and took home first place honors). Our good friends at New York Presbyterian built awesome consumer content from MedlinePlus Connect into their patient portal at And much more.


And finally --- home just in time to celebrate my 19th anniversary with my wife at the 5th Avenue Gala thanks to the awesome Grad and Suzy Conn. After playing dress-up, we stayed the night downtown and had a fantastic room service breakfast before heading back home so Lara and the kids could get their theater on at the dress rehearsal for As You Like It --- shows next weekend at Hillside Student Community!