Don’t forget the hot sauce! Washington DC’s Code-a-thon

If there’s two things I love, it’s walking to anything and applying the best practices of other industries to health care.  Oh, and Health 2.0, of course.

So I walked to Georgetown to the Health 2.0 Code-a-thon and participated in a cool project that combines what’s being understood about human behavior in the economics world (where, I believe, human behavior is better understood than in the medical world) and leveraged one of the newest datasets made available, Healthindicators.gov.

The scene itself – people coming together from different disciplines with the need/desire to build a product by the end of the day. I wasn’t really expecting to stay 11 hours, but that’s what you realize when you look up at the clock a few minutes after you start….

The other industries part is the example provided by OPower, which compares electricity customers to higher-performing relevant peer groups in monthly statements, using social influence to change their behavior towards (hopefully) reduced peak energy use (they even call it “advanced customer engagement”). So they are getting results for electricity use, what’s the analogy for health care?

Our hypothesis was that a desired health behavior for all (walking) could be influenced both by (a) comparison with relevant peer groups and (b) linkage to a person’s own personal medical information.

(a) came from the physical activity indicator at healthindicators.gov, (b) came from, for the purposes of our challenge, medical record data provided by bluebutton, and the two were mashed together to provide information about the desired behavior, comparison to relevant peers, and reinforcement with data from the electronic medical record.

Most electronic health records don’t include a measure of physical activity, so this would require a person’s input for comparison. This is changing though, most notably at Kaiser Permanente, where exercise is now treated as a vital sign and assessed at every office visit in Southern California, thanks to the work of Bob Sallis, MD.

Thanks to @drytownlizzie and Health 2.0 for the leadership and coordination, teammates @raseman, @avairs, Yair Rajwan, Heather O’Shea, @jess_jacobs, @MsWZ, @jzatzkin, and congratulations to the awesome team from Maya for their first place win! (We were second place…)

Ever wonder what a Code-a-thon looks like?

Check out Ted’s Flickr photos

Dr. Ted Eytan currently works as a Director at Kaiser Permanente, in The Permanente Federation, LLC. This post was innitialy featured on Ted Eytan’s Blog

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