Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending Health Datapalooza (formerly known as the Health Data Initiative Forum). The annual event is a public-private collaboration that provides a platform for innovators who are developing applications that raise awareness of health system performance.
And although much of the event focused squarely on technology, the Health Datapalooza featured an artistic component, too. Not only was patient advocacy artist Regina Holliday in attendance, but the event kicked off with her Walking Gallery, a living gallery in which participants wear jackets that feature Regina’s patient-centric art.
Each jacket is “painted with the story of a patient or an element of medical advocacy.” The images aren’t just beautiful—they’re powerful, too, depicting stories of sadness and frustration with the state of today’s healthcare system. Yet intertwined with the angst are messages of hope and change, optimistic sentiments that align with the larger purpose of the Health Datapalooza to prompt community action to improve health.
In order to help spark such action, this year’s Health Datapalooza featured presentations from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Atul Gawande, WIRED’s Thomas Goetz and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to name a few. They explored a number of new initiatives designed to help us use our health data to improve care.
For me, one of the most exciting parts of Health Datapalooza (aside from participating in the Walking Gallery) was the chance to see what technology is in the works. Take MyDrugCosts, for example, a web application that helps patients find the best price for their medications. Or the Blue Button initiative, a developing standard that lets patients download their health information from their providers. We also saw a demonstration of the award-winning Symcat application that lets patients explore and understand their symptoms.
Anyone who’s been to a trade show or conference knows that they can be exhausting. Yet this year’s Health Datapalooza proved energizing and inspiring, too—so many organizations, both large and small, are dedicated to truly making a change in the healthcare system, and that change starts with giving patients the tools and information they need to better care for themselves and their families.
Being around such a motivated group of people only served to deepen my sense of purpose in regard to PocketHealth. We’ve only begun to build the tools that will let you manage your own health information. You’ll soon see improvements in usability, more features that help with complex medical conditions and new tools to share your data with your providers. After all, both healthcare and technology are constantly evolving—and we’re dedicated to maintaining that pace in order to give you the best product possible.