Fourth annual Health 2.0 in San Francisco
Health 2.0 in San Francisco before the keynote kickoff.
Fourth annual Health 2.0 in San Francisco
Health 2.0 in San Francisco before the keynote kickoff.

The fourth annual Health 2.0 conference was held this past week appropriately in one of the nation’s innovation hotbeds, Silicon Valley. Approximately 1,000 participants spanning the spectrum of stakeholders from insurers, health care providers, public sector representatives to patients, clustered together at the Hilton in Union Square San Francisco for the two day mind meld.

Even before the opening remarks, I could feel the energy of the room that is consistent with most web 2.0 and social media events. Similar to “2.0” gatherings I’ve attended across other industries, the conversation in the “Dueling Keynotes” between Tim O’Reilly and Jeff Goldsmith culminated on the tension between the traditional institutions of the health care industry and the new innovations that are posed to be disruptive.

Jeff Goldsmith, president of Health Futures, drew similarities between the current transformation of the health industry to the one that newspapers are going through with the onslaught of new media. He noted it was important to not just focus on tearing down the old system for its limitations and inefficiencies, but also to contemplate what will replace the void that will be created. Similar to media, the bursting number of blogs and social media sites are currently not a major source of original reporting which is still supported by traditional media.

Just as there are words of caution and graphs refuting the notion that health care costs have been skyrocketing (one graph shows they have plateaued as of 2002…before the economic downturn), during the keynote, there was also optimism in a new era of innovation bolstered by the pressing issues in health care and the incentives provided by Health Reform.

One theme consistent across Jeff and Tim’s presentations was the emphasis on the need to make data personally meaningful and conveniently useful.

These two concepts consistently weave themselves in the five key things Jeff thinks we must do which is:

  • Tame the documentation monster
  • Help people find the information they need effortlessly
  • Accommodate the diversity of peoples’ needs and styles
  • Equip families with tools better to manage their health needs
  • Entertain and honor

All of these points recognize that unless we are able to make meaning of the plethora of data that technology can start to generate through various input methods, far beyond just the computer keyboard, it is of little use unless they drive better decision and motivate us to greater wellness.

Tim leaves us with different thoughts to ponder. The theme of making data more meaningful and useful persists in these points as well, but I do find them to be a more system-centric rather than patient-centric perspective.

  • Turning medicine into a science rather than an art: Which treatments work and which don’t?
  • Closing the loop by making sure that lab results get back to the doctor
  • Lowering costs while improving patient support through information self service and community
  • Aligning incentives and outcomes
  • Delivering expertise remotely
  • Real time measurement and monitoring

Although the keynotes were energizing, what was the highlight for me was the “Showcase: The Health 2.0 Developer Challenge”. There is an online forum where organizations can post challenges with criteria and prizes for anyone to respond to. The winners were invited to present their winning entries. Winners came from industry and academia.

I was especially proud to have attended as part of the Adobe winning team for the Veteran Administration’s Blue Button Challenge hosted by the Markle Foundation. Peter Levin, CTO of the Veteran’s Administration and Josh Lemieux from the Markle Foundation were there to introduce the Blue Button initiative and to present the award to the Adobe team.

Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.