By Halle Tecco. It was beautiful in San Francisco last week, the perfect weather to welcome 1,000 health geeks to the fourth Health 2.0 conference.
Two themes seemed to anchor the demos and conversations at the conference: data and consumer empowerment.
On day 1, Aneesh Chopra, CTO of the United States and Todd Park, CTO of US Health & Human Services set the tone with their enthusiasm for data.gov and what this means for healthcare. They also announced the ‘Blue Button’, a program being piloted by the Department of Veterans Affairs to give veterans the ability to download their claims or medical information.
Private sector innovation was demonstrated by companies like FirstLife Research. FirstLife is mapping and analyzing user-generated medical data that’s already on the web. Then they use semantic algorithms and medical ontologies to convert these reports to actionable insights about medications. Similarly, PatientsLikeMe combs through data on 19 conditions through their army of 45,000 patients that regularly track their health.
With consumer technology comes the ability for patients to be more informed and connected. There was lots of buzz for Castlight, a new site that provides employees with individual-level views of their health care benefits and costs. Such granular detail enables employees to become informed consumers and better shop for health care services.
Wellness apps were abundant, and a team of students from Stanford won the Move Your App! Developer Challenge, sponsored by Catch and HopeLabs. They created an app, called Happy Feet, that encourages physical activity through a game-like activity tracker. Another team built an augmented-reality mobile app that displays Health Rankings information based on a GPS reading, for home-shoppers or just the curious.
It was great to see a combination of large players like Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, alongside garage hackers and health geeks. Everyone agreed– technology is quickly making its mark on healthcare.