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Global Health Council panel - opening remarks


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Global Health Council panel - opening remarks

  1. 1. HYPERLINK "" Global Health, The Conference - Goals & Metrics, 2010.06.15<br />Global Health Council - Health Metrics Network<br />What is the Impact of Health Information on Better Outcomes? Opening comments<br />David Hale, Project Manager, Pillbox<br />National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health<br />Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank the Health Metrics Network and the World Bank for the opportunity to speak with you today.<br />What is a hacker? The term “hacker” is usually used in a negative context to indicate a person who breaks into a computer system with malicious intent. But, hacking has another meaning: to modify an existing system to perform a new and unique task, usually one that adds value.<br />CrisisCommons is a global network of volunteers who use creative problem solving and open technologies to help people and communities in times and places of crisis. This is the group that created CrisisCamp Haiti, of which I was a member. At the first CrisisCamp, held in 2009, members of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA, and the World Bank formed a group dedicated to “hacking to solve real-world problems.” They called themselves Random Hacks of Kindness<br />What if a government’s health data became a platform for hacking for social good?<br />Pillbox is a cooperative effort of the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.<br />On the surface Pillbox is a medication identification and reference system; a public domain resource where users identify pills based on their physical characteristics or chemical ingredients and have access to standardized, high-resolution images. It’s a government website – an authoritative source for information. But, only for those who have access and ability to use to the required technology. And only for those who know the website exists.<br />Let’s go one level deeper. Pillbox is a massive effort related to regulatory data, chemical nomenclature, search technology, and photography research and development. The National Library of Medicine and Food and Drug Administration have spent several years and leveraged the collective subject matter expertise of two of the federal agencies most deeply connected to pharmaceutical information. To duplicate this process outside of government would require a substantial investment in time, funding, and personnel. This creates a barrier that prevents creative, passionate individuals and organizations from developing innovative solutions to solve health challenges facing citizens, clinicians, and communities.<br />So, let’s make Pillbox a hackable platform.<br />We’ve made Pillbox’s data, search, and images available as a web service. This means anyone who is creating a resource for drug identification or reference can use Pillbox to power that application. Applications currently in development based on our web service include iPhone applications, a voice-activated pill identification system that you use by phone, and even a Facebook game. These applications are being developed outside the government, by startup companies, college students, and even a group of programmers working in their free time.<br />In the world of startup companies, the unique idea or technology a company uses to create value is called its “secret sauce.” Pillbox’s secret sauce is that our most innovative ideas, like exposing our data, search, and images through a web service, have come from the community. In developing Pillbox, our community has taught us three important lessons.<br />First - In order to create value, data must be structured in a way that is contextually relevant to communities. This may be different from the form in which it is used by government.<br />Second - It is critical to work with communities, prior to the release of data, in specifying its structure and developing systems that enable open access and promote application development<br />Finally - Engaging communities and promoting participation in the processes leading up to the release of data leads to a virtuous cycle where even competing groups can work together to solve challenges<br />Later this summer, we plan on repeating this process of community engagement with a new data set, community, and health challenges. We will be part of the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge. This program is supported by the Community Health Data Initiative, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services public-private effort, with White House collaboration, that aims to help Americans understand health and health care performance in their communities - and to help spark and facilitate action to improve performance.<br />During the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge, multi-disciplinary teams will participate in a series of competitions to build real-world applications to solve specific health challenges.<br />The website for the Challenge is “health, the number 2, challenge, dot org.” <br />It is my hope that through processes such as this, communities will transform from being the recipients of health services to being the creators and owners of innovative health information solutions.<br />Thank you very much.<br />David Hale<br />Project Manager, Pillbox<br />National Library of Medicine<br />National Institutes of Health<br /><br /><br />