The Health 2.0 Developer Challenge


the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge 2010 logoThe Health 2.0 Developer Challenge launched last week, and I’ve been embarrassingly remiss at mentioning it. Hopefully, many of you are already in the loop and excited about the project. Let me take a second and fill the rest of you in.

There are a lot of app contests and hackathons and dev challenges around these days. But I think this is one worth getting excited about, for three reasons. First: it’s focused. The effort is being arranged around a series of “challenges” — specific tasks that have been vetted by experts in the field. You can feel confident that the effort will involve real work on real problems — not just wheel-reinvention.

Second: it’s important. I’m sure that a lot of people still feel burnt out from the acrimony surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That’s understandable — I’ll avoid getting into those weeds. But regardless of your feelings about that legislation, or about the relative merits of the U.S. health care system, hopefully we can all agree on at least one thing: healthcare in this country is expensive, and getting more so — so expensive, in fact, that we can’t stay on the path we’re on. Hey, if you don’t believe me, consider what the CBO has to say:

CBPP projections of Medicare growth, based on CBO numbers

Admittedly, that’s pre-ACA — the bill is designed to address this trend, and it does so in a number of ways. But even the bill’s strongest proponents will tell you that there’s going to be more work to be done before we’re out of the woods, and efforts like the Health 2.0 Challenge will be a meaningful part of that push. And make no mistake: there’s a lot that we can do. Information technology has increased productivity and lowered cost in a huge variety of fields. But I doubt anyone reading this would be surprised by having to fill out five pages of paperwork and then have a conversation about their medical history when they visit a new doctor; or by being asked to carry their own x-ray film back to their doctor; or by receiving a barely-legible handwritten prescription (the cost of which you won’t know until it’s rung up, and the generic alternatives to which may never be discussed). It’s more than a little ridiculous that the Applecare program has better patient-tracking than most healthcare programs. That needs to change, and folks like us are in a position to help change it.

Finally: this effort has the attention of the right people. Both the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services are paying attention to this challenge. And the winners will be highlighted this fall at the Health 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

So have a look at the challenges, and see if you any inspire you to participate.