Invent Health

As winter sets in here in DC, I’m warming up with memories of September’s Stanford Medicine X conference. I loved putting together a keynote that highlighted how the maker movement intersects with the e-patient movement — and how private sector and government leaders can benefit. This intersection, and the lessons we are learning from it, are the latest examples of how the internet gives us access not only to information but also to each other. That deceptively simple insight is, I believe, the key to unlocking the potential for innovation in health care.

Here’s an excerpt:

Stanford University posted the full video on their Facebook page and you can learn more about the Invent Health initiative I launched at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by reading the following posts:

Health care needs a jolt of innovation. Here’s how we’re approaching it at HHS.

Invent Health: The National Week of Making

The Invent Health Initiative: Hardware Innovations for the Low-Resource Environment

Invent Health: Finding Common Ground

The Invent Health Initiative: Hardware Innovations Hard at Work

Invention and Innovation in Emergency Preparedness

Empowering Inventors to Create Tools for Better Living, Better Clinical Care

Kid Inventors Focus on Health

The sky is now her limit

Check out this gem of a postcard from 1920, entitled: The sky is now her limit.Drawing of a milkmaid standing at the bottom of a ladder with titles of professions on each rung. At the top: presidency.

The detail I wish was true: that we had achieved wage equality before women gained political appointments. What is true:  The ratio of female notaries to males is 3 to 1 in some states.

Rungs of a ladder with professions and milestones listed including wage equality and political appointments.

And yes, if you can’t read it, the top rung is “Presidency.”

Source of the image: Library of Congress via Katie Casey on Twitter.

Source of the data on the notary public gender ratio (because, me being me, I looked it up): The Feminization of the Office of Notary Public: From Femme Covert to Notaire Covert  (PDF)

The Power of Connection

Portraits of past HHS secretaries above Post-its

Portraits of past HHS secretaries overlooking an IDEA Lab design session

Technology enables the mission of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). It widens access to information and tools and pushes power out to all parts of the network, from our colleagues in the federal workforce to our fellow citizens. At HHS, we seek to create a learning system that recognizes the potential of every stakeholder in the network to contribute, from patients and caregivers to clinicians, researchers and policymakers.

The CTO of HHS serves the Secretary and the agency by bringing new approaches to the problems faced by those on the front lines of medicine, public health, and social services.

I see the role as a spotlight and a beacon, highlighting the innovative work being done inside and outside the federal government and inspiring people to reach higher, in service to citizens. Continue reading

Data for health

Last week I was part of the first community meeting for Data for Health, a program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It was held in Philadelphia on October 30 (an absolutely beautiful fall day).

You can catch up on the #data4health tweets thanks to Symplur — and there were some good ones:

Continue reading

What if we stopped panicking and started solving the problem?


“What if, in the midst of a crisis in which workflows, policies, procedures, and operations must be altered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could distribute an app to emergency departments as easily as a software developer submits an app to the Apple App Store?”

– Kenneth D. Mandl, MD, MPH, talking so much sense about the Ebola crisis that it gives me hope for the future.

Get yourself some: “Ebola in the United States: EHRs as a Public Health Tool at the Point of Care” (JAMA, Oct. 20, 2014)

Independence Day

Man pushes stroller up tracks covering stairs in StockholmEvery time I travel abroad, I fall a little bit in love with the country I visit. My trip to Sweden was no exception. I love how bikers have an equal right to use the streets. I love how there are stroller tracks on public stairs to make it easier for parents to navigate. I love how strong Swedish coffee is — even on airplanes. I love how everyone greets each other with a friendly “Hej!” (“Hey!”)

The other effect that foreign travel has on me, though, is an even deeper love for my own country. This time my appreciation for the U.S. was met and even surpassed by the people I met abroad. Continue reading

A genomic literacy spiral?

Like many people, I’m intrigued by the 23andme drama. Here’s a quote I scribbled down at Health Foo:

The data and genomics revolution is akin to the print revolution. Hundreds of years ago, peasants looked at this converted wine press and asked why we need more Bibles when nobody can read. The printing press triggered a literacy spiral, with both good and bad publications coming from it. The net result was worth it. That’s the story we need to tell.

For more, see: Gutenberg, Genomics, and the Literacy/Literature Spiral, by Tom Munnecke. Please note that I’m not endorsing his view. I’m interested in it and would love to hear what other people think.

If you’re just tuning in, I’ve found the following articles helpful:

Ribbons, ribbons, everywhere

Ribbon shape on wallPeggy Orenstein‘s article, “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer,” is worth one of your precious chits (unless, of course, you’re a subscriber, in which case you have hopefully already devoured it).

But don’t just take my word for it, read this post by Katherine O’Brien of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network — the bloggers I turned to first when I wondered about the “insider view” of the article. The post almost entirely praises Orenstein’s thorough reporting and illumination of key issues. Continue reading