At the end of August the White House launched a new program, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which pairs the private sector, academia, and non-profits with people from the government to work on five innovation projects over the course of the next five months. One of those projects is one that is undoubtedly familiar to those working in healthcare today: The Open Data Initiative. Former HHS CTO Todd Park helped launched the ODI in healthcare during his tenure at HHS, and now that he has succeeded Aneesh Chopra as CTO of the federal government, he aims to bring Open Data Initiatives to other sectors as well.
To illustrate the success of ODI, Park invited Dr. Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO of iTriage, the mobile health company that Aetna acquired last year, which makes use of some freely available government data sets to offer its symptom navigator and care facility locator service.
Hudson said that the iTriage app now has almost 7 million downloads and it is used about 3 million times each month. Close to 20 percent of the acute hospital marketplace now has tie-ins to the application, which can integrate with hospital information systems to provide ER wait times and appointment booking services. Hudson said that the app also has about 60,000 reviews across the various appstores that it is available through, and an average rating of about 4.5 out of 5 stars.
iTriage leverages at least two data sets that were made available thanks to the Open Data Initiative: A database of Federally Qualified Health Centers and a database for mental health and substance abuse centers. Hudson said that to date some 125,000 people have found Federally Qualified Health Centers through the iTriage app since it first launched and about 25,000 people have located mental health and substance abuse centers since the app went began including that data set.
Once Hudson finished telling the iTriage story, Park explained the company's significance for the ODI moving forward:
"So, what's the play?" Park asked the audience. "What is the Open Data Initiative's play exactly? Clone Pete Hudson. That is the play. Clone this story. And, very specifically, clone the actual use of the data -- the application of the data by American entrepreneurs and innovators -- to create real benefit in people's lives. Help people to find the right doctor that could save their life. Help your daughter find the college that will provide the best value for her... Get transparency on the non-profit market place so you actually put your charitable contributions, your hard earned dollars, into the non-profits that will produce the best value socially for your money. Real tools, real services built by American entrepreneurs using free government data that can help make American lives easier, better, and create jobs and help grow the economy at the same time."
More than 700 people applied to participate in the fellowship program, which accepted 18 to participate.
Interestingly, Ryan Panchadsaram, c0-founder of Pipette, is among those participating in the fellowship program on the Blue Button Initiative project. Pipette was a Rock Health startup that was developing mobile health offerings that enable hospitals and care teams to monitor and educate patients during recovery with an aim to “reduce complications and lower the cost of care by enabling early intervention of high-risk patients," according to the company at the time. MIT Media Lab spin-out Ginger.io "acqui-hired" the Pipette team in March.
Panchadsaram will be working with two others to drive adoption of the Blue Button for America technology, which aims to help millions of Americans "easily and securely download their own health information electronically."