By Spitz (@SpitzStrategy)

September 19, 2011 / SXSH Social Health Conference in Phlladelphia

Whiz Kid

Todd Park is no stranger to innovation, growing up in an immigrant family where his father held the most patents at Dow Chemical after Dr. Dow himself. From age 24 onward, Todd has led the charge of health IT through entrepreneurial and social good ventures throughout the world.He’s had a precocious and illustrious career that has led to our tweeting and YouTubing President appointing him Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

Todd Park on the Power of Open Data from Zemoga on Vimeo.

Russ Ward of Pixels & Pills had the chance to interview Todd following his presentation covering Open Data at the SXSH Conference eighteen months ago (when he was CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services). In the clip, he discusses the inherent power of open data. Todd was (and still is) an advocate of “liberating healthcare data to provide fuel for entrepreneurs, researchers, journalists, physicians, patients, and the others to ultimately receive better standards of care.

Todd cited three examples of how Open Data can be used to improve healthcare access and outcomes, including smart search engines, data-driven services for consumers, and data mining opportunities for professionals and public. A tech grassroots movement since the Internet came to life, Open Data makes particularly compelling sense for healthcare, a fundamentally vital specialty more data-driven and dependent on evidence-based research than perhaps any other.

Fresh Challenges and Opportunities

Much has happened in less than two years since Todd presented, including the explosion of mobile health, the failure of vast, cloud-based platforms like Google Health, and renewed concerns over data breaches and privacy, especially for health-related personal information. Meanwhile, answers to fundamental questions such as how this vast mountain of information is collected, stored, analyzed, and redistributed have yet to be answered, while digital systems designed to share personal health records at the point of care remain fragmented, generally slow and cumbersome to implement (and still in their infancy).

Despite these challenges, however, the driving principles behind Todds philosophy remain clear and true: While staying sensitive to personal data on the individual level, the inexorable drive to record, aggregate, and disseminate healthcare information on a grand scale lies at the core of healthcare IT. The goal remains clear, even if the road ahead is uncertain: to take advantage of a treasure trove of zeros and ones in a manner already practiced by other disciplines, and get to the heart of what ails us, from oncology to diabetes to HIV and beyond.

Rock on, Todd!

Michael Spitz , known most often as just "Spitz," is Editor-in-Chief of the Pixels & Pills and a prollific tweeter, blogger, and article writer, active in digital health across all specialties. Follow him @SpitzStrategy.



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