The HealthCampDC Experience

I went down to Washington DC to attend HealthCampDC on Friday (09.12.08), an "unconference" organized by Mark Scrimshire, a Strategic Consultant and Change Agent. I wasn't sure what to expect. From the group that signed up, I follow four on Twitter, and have spoken with two in the past - so I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet them in person.

As for the agenda? There was no agenda until the group decided what we were going to talk about. Such is the style of BarCamp. Of the 25 people who signed up, only 9 of us made it to the CareFirst offices.

It was a great group and made the day more intimate - representing payor HIT, NIH HIT, consultants for State and Government, MD consultants, Health Ranger, Pollster/e-patient and me.

We had a quick networking session over coffee and muffins, then we all made a dash to the board to post the topics we wanted to discuss.

We all commented how this methodology was much better than a regular conference where people show up with a slide presentation and bore everyone to death. We ended up choosing about 5 different session topics, then sat around a table to discuss. And discuss we did.

Mark did a wonderful job of hosting and organizing, as well as live blogging through the event. Here is his post on the morning sessions, and his recap post of the event.

Our first topics revolved around two projects that two campers were working on. Susannah Fox from the Pew Internet & American Life Project is putting together a new study on Social Media and Health and Lygeia Ricciardi is working on a project to raise patient awareness and adoption of physician sharing of EHRs.

Both topics sparked lots of back and forth about polls, their importance, Health 2.0 tools, EMRs /PHRs access and ownership. Some of the quotes that I have in my notes:

"Don't believe polls that do not include cell phones".
"Everyone is a media company".
"Don't offer consumers a service, offer them a solution".
"CIOs career is based on how many people work under them".
“The only people without access to electronic health records are the patient themselves”.

Ted Eytan, MD mentioned two real world scenarios he has experienced where a EMR would come in handy. 1) A non-English speaking man collapsed on the street in front of him - no one knew what medications he was on or if he had any medical conditions. 2) A cashier at Whole Foods had a medication reaction, yet no one knew what she was on or her conditions, and no one could find her purse. What do you do as a spectator, EMT, MD when the patient is unconcious and you have no idea if what you are doing is going to help or hurt them?

This led into a discussion about primary v. secondary access to healthcare information and services – patient v. family caregiver. How do you engage Helen Keller or her caregiver? 20% are satisfied not being engaged in their healthcare decisions.

“The HealthCare challenge is bigger than any one person or company can tackle alone”.
“We all have to own a part of the solution".
"We are all agents of change”.

Jen McCabe Gorman gave a quick recap of her Medicine 2.0 presentation for the NextHealth model that she and her Dutch group have been working on. Susannah Fox has a great write up over at I sort of understand their model - here is the Slideshare , the NextHealth research paper and Jen's post about the presentation, but I think I need to walk through it once it is online to fully understand.

“Not all patients are consumers, but all consumers will at some point become patients”.
“The hyper-connected patient (2%) will drive activity and innovation”.
"Everyone can be overwhelmed by the system whether you are the patient, payer, provider or consumer".
"I feel kinda stoopid". This was a major thread through the day.

In the afternoon, we started with a discussion of the tools we, as healthcare professionals, use to keep abreast of new technologies and our peers. The longest discussion was about Twitter (which I have written about before).

Other tools mentioned were lots of Google apps: search, alerts, reader - as well as Delicious, RSS Feeds, Jing, Summize, Friend Feed, Stickam, Feedinformer, blogs and YouTube. There was a Stickam live feed of the event which I did not know about until someone twittered me about it. I learned that Google Reader has a search function so you can add RSS feeds based on the topics you follow.

David Hale gave a presentation on a Drug Identification tool that is being developed by the NIH's National Library of Medicine. It uses FDA pictures and codes to identify pills. We talked about the value of the service as so many patients have unidentified medications. Used the example of medications from Katrina – patients had pill bottles without labels – how to identify them? Would like this tool to be the definitive database for patients, providers, poison control, etc…

The final topics: How can we get DC to become the center for Health 2.0? And where do we go from here? We were but a small group, but everyone has a voice, and has contacts. Who do you get involved? I asked who are the decision makers that can effect change - who has the loudest voice? Patients, providers, payors (probably not), entrepreneurs? Does the squeaky wheel get the grease?

This HealthCamp was a great place to start the East Coast discussion about Health 2.0 and how to enact that change. To quote Mark again: "Despite the scale of the challenge being so great one realization was reached. The Washington DC area is at the epicenter of the transformation of HealthCare. All the major providers compete in this market. Major Provider networks operate, researchers are here, Venture Capitalists are here, Technologists are here, charities representing critical diseases have representation here and the politicians and Federal operations that will pass legislation that will drive change are here. Everyone is in this market. The Washington DC are has all the elements to be the epicenter of Health 2.0."

Next events are HealthCampNy, an uncoference at the Health 2.0 Conference, and another HealthCampDC in late January or February '09.

Thank you again to Mark and all the campers who participated and made HealthCampDC08 such a gerat event! It was a pleasure to meet you all and I look forward to continuing the conversation.

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