See you at the Millennial Week DC Code-a-Thon

Millenial Week Code-a-Thon, sponsored by Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente

I have been known to hang out with Millenials, actually I am almost one if you look at my score on the Millennial quiz 🙂 .

Even if this wasn’t in support of Millenial Week (@MillenialWeek), it’s in support of Washington, DC, which happens to be the best city in the United States to be a millenial (and many other things).

The Code-a-Thon is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente (@KPShare) and Microsoft together at the world famous 1776 (@1776).

I’ll be there in the role of catalyst. Watch out!

More info below, feel free to sign up at

Millennial Week Code-a-thon

Health and Wellness Designed by You

Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente and Microsoft

Washington, D.C. • June 20-21, 2015

Are you ready to shape the future of health care? Have ideas on how innovative technologies can transform how we stay happy and healthy? Join Kaiser Permanente and Microsoft in Washington, D.C., during Millennial Week for 48 hours of coding and co-creating.

Register now!

Using Microsoft Azure and Xamarin (and with plenty of tech support), you’ll join a team to build app prototypes that incorporate wearables, video calls, mobile communications, or other technologies. You’ll have access to Kaiser Permanente physicians and technologists who’ll help identify opportunities for innovation and provide insights into how the nation’s leading integrated healthcare system operates.

Don’t worry if you’re not a coder. We need designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and folks with big ideas who are willing to roll up their sleeves and show us YOUR vision of the future of health and wellness!

Oh, and there will be lots of free food, and the winning teams will receive cool prizes.

WHEN: Sat., June 20, 7 AM to11 PM EST; Sun., June 21, 7 AM to 5:30 PM EST
WHERE: General Assembly, 1133 15th Street, NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20005
PRIZES: Microsoft hardware and software
Register now!

Questions? Email

Photo Friday: What Innovation in your DNA looks like

I try and take photographs that capture people as they are (I call it “the human spirit”). This week’s photo wasn’t taken by me ( Thank you@erinm81 ) but notice how the silly shot is always more interesting than the serious shot. It’s from this week’s code-a-thon, where we worked with the newly published open data API by Kaiser Permanente. 

Not here because we don’t want to change light bulbs, here because we want to change the world View Interchange by KP Code-a-Thon 25596 on

Laugh once a day

This photograph was taken by me. The people in the photograph are, on a daily basis, dealing with the most vexing problems in health care known. Not just how to provide coverage and service, but to recruit and train the best nurses, doctors, and physicians, with the highest quality and zero (zero) disparities, and not for the purpose of delivering great care either, for the purpose of helping people and communities achieve their goals in life. And yet, they can come from across the country to find new ways to do it better, with humility and humor.

A little plug for my team’s project (which was not the uber winner – that title goes most awesomely to our Kaiser Permanente Georgia colleagues, iThrive C in the photos). We used the new API to create a workflow for physicians/care providers to happily and supportively accept tracking data from your device/app of choice, provide feedback, and use it to change the social milieu of health. We called it “Total Health Connect.”

When Farzad Mostashari, MD (@farzad_ONC) was in the other day, he remarked to us that he was impressed that our organization would bring together people (physicians from not 1, but 4 Permanente Medical Groups from across the United States) across disciplines to create the future. Honestly, though, it’s how we are – not here to keep from changing light bulbs, here to change the world.

Equality, one of the most important innovations

Speaking of zero disparities and changing the world, our week of innovation isn’t over. Kaiser Permanente is a silver sponsor in the Capital Pride parade and festival in our nation’s capital this weekend. Our doctors, nurses, staff, and members, are walking to support the health of our lesbian, gay, bixesual, transgender, and intersex members, staff, and communities who support them.

When innovation is in your DNA you apply it to everything you do 🙂

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente API Launch and Code-a-Thon – enjoy the journey

I have never been in a code-a-thon that took me to a different state during its operation. And yet….there we were in Virginia in the middle of the night (for a good reason, visiting with Lesley Levine, MD’s (@LRLMD)  brother, who provided us the pizzas for the team’s midnight snack). A the title of the post says, enjoy the journey, which we did.

The code-a-thon is the launch of Interchange by Kasier Permanente:

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is our open API program. This API securely enables internal and external developers to plug into and use approved public Kaiser Permanente data to improve health care experiences in ways that have never been possible and have yet to be imagined. The availability of the API program has the potential to transform health care interactions, drive new models of consumer engagement, enable safe sharing of Kaiser Permanente digital assets and promote the brand promise of total health as a destination.

We have been working with friends and supporters, including Permanente physicians, nurses, developers and other staff from across the United States, as well as a frankly awesome visit from Farzad Mostashari, MD (@farzad_ONC), who stimulated the group with his wit and probing questions, with a dash of humor. Come back anytime, our friend.

I am working with colleague Mark Groshek, MD (@markgroshek) on a team that is leveraging the API to create a world where a tracker (activity, sleep, food) connects patient and care team rather than creating a gap between them. This is what an API can do, if implemented well. Enjoy the photos. Official release about the API is here.

Hacking Community Walking Data with the Arlington, Virginia, Mobility Lab

There are so many things in just the title of this post that is new learning for me. Let’s count them:

    1. There is automated community walking data available, because Arlington, Virginia has installed electronic meters on its walking trails (see: National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project :: Home)
    2. This data is available for download and via web service (see: Bicycle & Pedestrian Counters)
    3. There is a mobility lab in this region, (@mobilitylabteam) a unique organization in our nation, part of Arlington Department of Environmental Services, that is
      • The home of cutting-edge original transportation research,
      • A convener and engager of top minds on the topic locally in the DC region, nationally, and worldwide, and
      • The leading online source for how we can improve society by offering a better and healthier array of transportation options.

    I learned about this at mobility hack day, which was held at the Lab this past weekend. By the way, “mobility” refers to transportation, rather than “mobile technology,” although the two are commingled in this world…

    This information is a bit of a revelation for me because I have been following all of the amazing analysis and visualizations of Capital Bikeshare (@bikeshare), the nation’s largest (and most awesome) bike sharing service, which has made its data available for download. This is just one example from community colleague MV Jantzen. I didn’t realize that walking could be measured (since I assumed, unlike a bike, you don’t check out your feet at a walk station).

    Well it turns out that you can, via specially designed meters that have different characteristics suitable for measuring walking indoors our outdoors. It seems like there’s as much science behind these as there is for many medical tests we order (sensitivity/specificity, etc). Again, I was not aware, until now.

    Why Arlington?

    Why, do you ask, does Arlington, Virgina have a nation-leading organization like mobility lab? Here’s a clue (from Wikipedia):

    With a land area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Arlington is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States and has no other incorporated towns within its borders. Given these unique characteristics, for statistical purposes the county is included as a municipality within the Washington Metropolitan Area by the United States Census Bureau. As of 2012, Arlington County had a population of 220,565 residents. It would be the fourth-largest city in the state if it were incorporated as such.

    Think about the management of growth that this must require, and necessity is the mother of innovation…. 

    Walking and Mondays, my quick little data hack

    My little hack was pretty simple. I just downloaded pedestrian counts from three points in Arlington’s trail system and wanted to visually review what Mondays looked like relative to the rest of the week. This analysis is important, because there’s behavioral science to show that Mondays have special significance in changing behavior and it may be more effective to start a change on Monday, and continue that change on a Monday, for lasting effect. The Monday Campaigns have highlighted this and leveraged it to success in multiple venues/campaigns. Check it out.  and review “The Science behind the Monday Campaigns

    My hack above has significant methodologic problems, most notably that it doesn’t take the weather into account. 

    Let’s assume for a second, though, that it’s correct. If it is, it may show a picture of people walking on trails mostly on weekends with a drop-off during the work week. Imagine that you are an employer then in the area, and could start a Monday campaign, by encouraging your employees to conduct walking meetings on Mondays or walking to work on Mondays.

    First, you could use this data to see impact – since it counts down to the pedestrian.

    Second, you could report this data back and use it to see a smoothing of walking throughout the week. In other words, Monday could be the “The Day All Health Breaks Loose” and over time, there would be more weekday walking.

    And I’m still impressed that walking can actually be counted without expensive pedometers or app installations. Have I mentioned that a few times already? 🙂

    I guess point #3 is that more employers could install pedestrian counters to support walking initiatives across all their locations.

    I’d like a few of these

    And now, just as I joke that I’d like to have a functional MRI to discover the secrets that other industries use to promote unhealthy behavior, I’d like to have one, or 600 of these sensors to track walking where people live, work, learn, and play.

    Thanks again, Mobility Lab, for opening your doors to all. Special thanks to Sridevi Beidha from Redmon Group, who with a single utterance of a URL, made rainbows come into the room. Transportation and Health are really collaborating now.

    Coming in April: Center for Total Health Community Tour, focus on Transportation and Health

    As the heading says, we’re keeping the collaboration going. See you in April. Watch this space for details on time and place.

    A media moment at #healthdata with US CTO Todd Park and The SchoolFit team

    This is how stuff happens around here. One minute you’re sharing stories with a friend whose team happened to win the obesity prevention code-a-thon. The next, you’re watching as the United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park ( @Todd_Park ) gets a live demo of the app-created-in-2-days by the SchoolFit team, with CBS News looking on.

    What was supposed to happen was that Todd was being set up for a scheduled interview right after congratulating the winning team, who are Jay Nagy > Ryan Duryea, dev > Art Nicewick, lead > Christine Kraft ( @ChristineKraft ) > Amanda Robison. However, he became engaged, and quite graciously so, in seeing how the app worked. At that point, the CBS crew decided to take their camera off its tripod and walk over to film what was happening, which is what I photographed.

    So, this is proof that winning a code-a-thon can bring great visibility for innovation. And, let’s also celebrate that this is the first Health Data Initiative Forum that had a national TV news crew present (that I know of). This health data thing is REALLY catching on.

    Art, Todd, Christine

    Oh, and CTO Park did pose for a photo with Art and Christine, too. The rest of the photographs from the moment are below, enjoy. With great thanks to Todd’s team for their flexibility, sense of humor, and focus on a great experience for all.

    Obesity Prevention Code-A-Thon Finale: From an invididual to a civic mindset

    DC Health Week Code-a-Thon 13141 – The School Fit Team – They won!

    In the weeks leading up to this weekend’s code-a-thon, conversations like this, with respected community organizers like Greg Bloom were happening:

    This is a reasonable question. In some mHealth circles, people feel “App” is a bad word now, because it seems like too simple a solution to complex problems.

    Enter this week’s code-a-thon. As I mentioned in the post about the code-a-thon yesterday, there were more than a few experts in social determinants of health and geospatial imaging present, and it made a difference. By the time we got to presenting the final entries, I definitely noticed that teams had learned, slept on things, and created tools that enhanced understanding of community conditions, not just a person’s day to day activities. Since many people believe that that the causes of behavior lie deeper than individuals having information, this is very important.

    DC Health Week Code-a-Thon 13129 – School Fit

    And the winner is…. School Fit

    The School Fit team, which happens to include amongst its ranks Christine Kraft ( @ChristineKraft ) (who said she would just do a drive by on Saturday and now look what happened…). developed a ruby on rails app that integrates location based information along with school fitness rankings to work at a family and community level to combat obesity.

    This application, like many others at the code-a-thon, relies on layers of community data to guide people either to civic action, or to understand better the causes of the causes of their conditions. The team is mindful of social differences between schools, so have planned the metrics around educational activities as well as outcomes to assign fit scores to schools. From that perspective, I say, yes, this app could bring neighbors together to solve community problems.

    These aren’t the apps that might have been built 1 – 2 years ago, which tells me that (a) people interested in developing apps for health are interested in improving health and are able and willing to learn the most promising avenues to do that (b) the connection to geospatial analysis and social data can change the way people think:

    DC Health Week Code-a-Thon – Gratutitous Hot Sauce Shot 13114

    I’m impressed!

    Alan Viars ( @avairs ) bringing the hot sauce was just icing on the cake. Thanks to Danielle Cass ( @DanielleCass ), The Health 2.0 Challenge Team, Deb Linton ( @pingdeb ), Hemali Thakkur, and the Center for Total Health ( @kptotalhealth ) for the hospitality.