Things I’ll Remember to Do For Next Year’s Health Datapalooza

Health Datapalooza IV, which took place in Washington D.C. earlier this month, was spearheaded by the Health Data Consortium to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, government agencies and other movers and shakers to share the latest and most innovative examples of health data being used to improve health.

Todd Park Datapalooza 2013

Todd Park, US Chief Technology Officer speaks at Health Datapalooza IV.

A number of FKH colleagues attended and helped staff this event. I made it my mission to attend as many sessions as possible and live-tweet the talks. I can’t begin to measure everything that I learned from the keynotes, breakouts and live demos, but based on my experience at this year’s event, here are just a few of the things I’ll remember to do in preparation for Health Datapalooza 2014…

Pack an umbrella: I was able to rely on the goodwill of my D.C.-based colleagues with umbrellas to keep me *mostly* dry during downpour that came during the welcome event at the National Zoo. It seemed that dodging the rivers flowing underfoot and huddling together underneath the big cat pavilion did little to dampen the spirits of the other 250+ attendees who were surrounded by a live jazz band, delicious snacks, and stimulating conversation. I definitely overheard a few “collaborations in progress” already underway before Health Datapalooza IV even began.

Eat whatever Jonathan Bush has for breakfast: The leader of AthenaHealth opened his talk with a confession, “Hi. My name is Jon. And I’m a data-holic” and after that gave a non-stop rollercoaster ride of a keynote—one minute asking the audience to focus on building better business models and bringing the principles of comparative advantage to the health care supply chain—and in the next breath (if he even took a breath…) calling for us to “make data SEXY!”

Find a way to get “Palooza Punch” adopted by all attendees: Audience members like Brian Ahier were proud to be dubbed “data drunks” during the keynote by Atul Gawande, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. This inspired me to answer the calls of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to think of new and creative ways to take promising advances and bring them to consumers,” and from Bryan Sivak, HHS CTO, to “walk away from the conference with a new idea.”

To rise to this challenge, I have decided to combine two things I love—martinis and data—to create a recipe for next year’s “Palooza Punch”. This delicious cocktail includes: 1 part open source data + 2 parts simplification + a splash of creativity. Shake vigorously and garnish with adequate funding and patient engagement to help prevent data hangovers and “bring joy back to taking care of patients.”

Charge my personal Wifi Hotspot: With close to 2000 attendees packing the morning plenary session the first day, having a wifi hotspot turned out to be a godsend. Not surprisingly the attendees were data hogs and tested the wifi’s bandwidth as everyone tweeted, emailed, monitored, live streamed, and uploaded data from their personal health gadgets throughout the day.

The audience, each with their obligatory mobile devices in hand.

The audience, each with their obligatory mobile devices in hand.

Flaunt the latest in wearable health technology: Whether it is the Jawbone, Fitbit, Fuelband or whatever cool new technology launches in the next year–wearable technology is the key to dressing health data geek-chic. I have to admit to feeling a bit sheepish forgetting to wear my Fitbit since this made me one of the only audience members in “The Cutting Edge of Consumer Engagement” break-out session who did NOT raise my hand when asked by the panel who was wearing Jawbone or Fitbit or a similar personal health device at that very moment.

Health Datapalooza IV delivered on its promise to deliver the latest in health data and technology and gave a great perspective on how creative use of data can impact the healthcare world at every level. The future is bright, especially when providers, payers and patients unlock and share data with innovators who find creative ways to deliver value back into the system. Over the next few weeks I hope to share even more insights on some of the companies and happenings at this year’s event!