If there is anything that gets a room of entrepreneurs, change makers and innovators all jazzed up, it is, perhaps, health data. And what musters even more enthusiasm is the possibility of availing that data to spawn innovative ideas that improve health.
“It’s a field of awesomeness,” said Todd Park, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Park, a self-described tech junkie, and other health leaders are depending on a treasure trove of health data sitting in the vaults of the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies that are little by little becoming more easily accessible to the general public. They see this so-called ‘liberation’ as a way to accelerate the impact that data have on the entire health sector.
That impact is being showcased during the 2012 Health Datapalooza taking place in Washington, D.C., this week. More than 100 of the best and brightest new tools and apps were selected to be on display at the conference that exemplify innovators’ use of data as a means to improve health outcomes in communities across the country.
“I was so excited that I had no idea who any of them were,” said Park.
Take Miami Matters, for example. Seen as a pioneer in the field of community apps, it aggregates community-based data using data to educate community members about the latest health indicators in their area – from information on diabetes and family planning to food safety.
“This is a lot of data to maintain, but it helps all of us provide a ‘feet on the street’ level to improve health,” said Deryk Van Brunt, chief executive officer of the Healthy Communities Institute that helped create this tool for Miami-Dade County.
Van Brunt is working with hundreds of organizations across the country to build this type of resource elsewhere and positively affect health outcomes. So, as the saying goes, if there’s an app for that, Van Brunt is hoping your community is using it.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will keynote tomorrow’s sessions. A live webcast of the event is available here.