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Fall 2011 Vol. 11 Number 2



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MEETINGS

Health Data Initiative Forum Highlights
New Health Apps and Innovation Challenges

Second annual Health Data Initiative Forum convened in June by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, photos by Ernie Branson
Second annual Health Data Initiative Forum convened in June by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, photos by Ernie Branson
Second annual Health Data Initiative Forum convened in June by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, photos by Ernie Branson
Second annual Health Data Initiative Forum convened in June by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, photos by Ernie Branson

A new program that supports health care entrepreneurs, an “idea lab” focused on developing nursing homes of the future, and a new app to help patients make informed decisions about surgery were some of the many highlights that marked the second annual Health Data Initiative Forum convened by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last June.

The forum provided opportunities for health leaders, software and IT developers, entrepreneurs, funders, and policymakers to interact and accelerate the transformation of public health data into innovative products that improve people’s health and communities’ well-being. The event included demonstrations of more than 45 new or updated technologies designed to serve the needs of patients, health professionals, policymakers, and others. It also featured 11 announcements of technology development challenges and other new initiatives.

In their keynote remarks, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, described the wealth of health and environmental data available through their agencies that innovators can access for free. Jackson announced the launch of “Apps for the Environment,” a challenge to apply EPA data innovatively to tackling major environmental health issues.

“By joining the creativity and enthusiasm of the tech sector with the health sector’s dedication to improving the well-being of Americans, we can develop new solutions to the many serious health issues facing the nation,” said Judith A. Salerno, Leonard D. Schaeffer Executive Officer of the IOM.

The Health Data Initiative does not endorse particular applications, organizations, or efforts, but rather enables their independent development by giving individuals and groups free access to expanded health data. Descriptions of all the products showcased at the forum are available at www.iom.edu/healthdataforum. Among the products demonstrated were:

  • a tool that enables patients and their to learn about surgical procedures and options;
  • a virtual grocery marketplace intended to help people — especially those in communities lacking grocery stores and farmers’ markets — get affordable, healthy foods; and
  • an online tool that provides one-stop shopping for statistics and other health data that journalists, bloggers, and others can readily find and incorporate in their work.

In addition, several organizations announced new initiatives and other actions including competitive challenges that call on participants to develop tools to improve cancer and diabetes care, a new graduate program in health informatics, and an entrepreneurial support program for start-up firms that use health data.  -- Christine Stencel



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Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences