HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Your Turn! Enter the $10K Windows 8 & HealthVault Challenge.

Your Turn! Enter the $10K Windows 8 & HealthVault Challenge.

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I don’t often turn over space on HealthBlog to other authors. An exception was during my sabbatical when Gareth Hall kindly filled in for me. Another exception is when one of my colleagues has something really cool or important to share. Then, I feel it is my responsibility to help get the message out. Today’s post is one such example. First, it announces a unique opportunity for you to have real impact on health and healthcare. Second, it comes from one of my favorite people at Microsoft. Sean Nolan heads up our HealthVault business. Like me, he travels the world, and speaks at a lot of conferences. But he is also a brilliant software engineer with a tremendous amount of passion for what he does. He is also one of the most genuine, responsible, and caring persons I have ever met. So with great enthusiasm, I’m pleased to share this important announcement from Sean and the HealthVault team.

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imageI just got back from a great couple of days at the Health:Refactored conference --- a new show put on by the Health 2.0 folks that brings a slightly more technical bent than your typical “Healthcare IT” conference. The Computer History Museum was a great venue (check out my picture of a real life Cray-1… so cool!) and I really enjoyed having a ton of 1:1 time with real developers and innovators.  

This morning I did a quick keynote to help start the day off. Because of the audience, I took a slightly different approach than I often do in talking about the industry --- hard to know if it was motivating and fun (the goal) or snarky and obnoxious (the risk), but either way I figured I’d share it here as well in the hopes that it can spark some good discussion.

I uploaded my slides here; but the punchline is encapsulated best in this one picture:

What I’m trying to say is --- there are TONS of great ideas about how to make healthcare better --- and frankly our system is so screwed up that the vast majority of those ideas actually could help. The problem comes in at the point of execution --- too many people get stuck in “pilot” mode, ignoring the ugly, hard, integration problems that are frankly the hard part of healthcare technology:

  • How do you get the data you need to drive your solution?
  • How does your solution fit into actual provider and patient workflows?
  • How can your solution work with all patients (not just the ones with iPhones)?
  • etc.

Helping innovators get beyond the trap of pilot mode --- and use their startup dollars efficiently --- is what platforms like HealthVault are all about. Honestly, if I hear one more developer tell me that they figured out how to parse a Blue Button or CCD file, or that they connected directly to Withings and Fitbit and ten other devices, I’m going to lose it --- HealthVault abstracts those things away for you. You just ask for data, and you get it --- I put money into keeping my parsers matched to the whim of the VA, Epic or whomever, so that you don’t have to. Take advantage of that!

Anyways --- it’s a hopeful and positive story. Today HealthVault and other great platforms like SMART make it easy for savvy developers to concentrate on their innovations, not the mess underneath them --- and puts them in a position to escape the black hole of the forever pilot.

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Enter the $10K Windows 8 & HealthVault Challenge!

…which is a great segue into the other really cool thing we kicked off at Health:Refactored --- a challenge meant to stimulate some great ideas and innovations combining Windows 8 and HealthVault to “re-imagine” consumer health. The only requirement is that you leverage both technologies to do something great --- but time is short! Details are here and submissions have to be in by June 30. GO!

For some inspiration, take a look at our own HealthVault app for Windows 8, or the really great medical image viewer built by Mobile Solutions. We have a super-rich Windows RT SDK with sample code to get you started as well; check it out here.

Win8 has some great features and you should explore them all --- but for my money, the really awesome thing is that it’s the only modern touch platform that makes HTML, Javascript and CSS a first-class, native development environment. My first personal foray into Win8 development was a HV sharing app … and I was simply amazed at how quickly I was doing really sophisticated stuff using all the skills that have served me well on the web for all these years. Really empowering, and should open up Win8 development to thousands of folks that otherwise would have to start their education from scratch once again.

If you have any questions about the challenge, post a question here or just send a note to the challenge email alias at Win8HealthDev@microsoft.com --- and we’ll do whatever we can to help. Oh, one other thing ... we had some free kits at the conference that made it easy for Mac-based developers to work with Visual Studio and Win8 through a VM ... I don't know if we have extras of those but if you want one email the alias and ask ... worth a try!

Can’t wait to see what you create. Thanks to everyone who participated at the show and look forward to doing a v2 of it next year!

Sean Nolan

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Bill Crounse 2007 04I’ll add one tip I always mention to young entrepreneurs. Don’t forget to think about how you will scale your solution, and especially how you will monetize it. Some of the best ideas and coolest technologies I’ve seen never get beyond pilot stage because the inventor/developer didn’t spend enough time thinking about how to make money. This is especially tricky in health and healthcare due to the regulatory environment, and even more so due to the unique culture, behaviors, perverse incentives, and payment systems that are so inherent in the industry.

So, there you have it. All that stands between you and an opportunity to win $10K is to get your entry in the hopper by June 30th. Like Sean, I can’t wait to see your good work.

Bill Crounse, MD                         Senior Director, Worldwide Health           Microsoft

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