Transportation, Health, Food Systems : A Tour of the Future and comparing the stats

On the occasion of this month’s community tour, “Transportation and Health,” I refreshed the table I originally published in this post: Comparing the stats: The US Food System and US Health Care System | Ted Eytan, MD. Here are those numbers.

  How much $ % US GDP Number of workers Proportion of total US workforce (145 million) % of green house gas emissions
Health Care 2.7 Trillion 18% 16 million   11 % 8%
Food System 1.8 Trillion 13% 20 million  17 % 7%
Transportation 1.4 Trillion 9.8% 11 million  8 % 28%
Public Transportation 0.054 Trillion 0.00037% 0.4 million  0.3 % ?

As before, I compiled all of the references in this link cloud, which you can access on your own.

In the world of Total Health, transportation and food are part of the health system. These industries combined make up a large chunk of the workforce and produce a large chunk of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The GHG numbers need to be interpreted with great care because there’s probably overlap between the industries. If you just eyeball the proportions, though, you can see the possibilities for these industries to interact in ways they may not have thought of yet.

Team from Arlington Commuter Services (ACCS), including Mobility Lab, BikeArlington, and Washington Area Bicyclist Association, visit the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health to explore “Transportation and Health.” Left to Right: Paul Goddin, Ted Eytan, Brendan Casey, Zanna Worzella, Megan McCarty, Tom Fairchild, Chris Eatough, Wendy Duren (View on

That’s where this month’s community tour came in. I was joined by the teams from Arlington County Commuter Services, which includes BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) and Mobility Lab (@mobilitylabteam), as well as Washington Area Bicyclist Association (@wabadc), and we began talking about what these interactions could be. Actually we didn’t just begin talking about these connections, we’ve been conversing and learning more each time we meet, either at the Center for Total Health, or at the Mobility Lab, where I’ve been (Hacking Community Walking Data with the Arlington, Virginia, Mobility Lab | Ted Eytan, MD).

These are just off the top of our heads, please add any that I didn’t capture or new ones:

  • What is the health status of people who live near public transportation hubs?
  • What are the outcomes of health systems who deliver care in places that emphasize active transportation?
  • Do health systems today preferentially locate or spur development near public transportation hubs?
  • How much health does the health system produce relative to active transportation and how much health could they produce together?

It is highly highly likely that these analyses may have been done, so all it might take is a meeting (or hacking) of the minds (while walking, of course) to review the literature together to create inferences. So for example, if people who are more engaged in active transportation tend to have lower blood pressure, this translates to the literature that people who have lower blood pressure are more productive at work and have a lower health care burden (time, money, cardiovascular events, etc).

Why Washington, DC? Why Arlington?

In addition the fact that curious, social people live here :), there is a ton of innovation being driven by the geography and development patterns of this not-yet-a-state and smallest self-governing county in the United States. This hub of transportation innovation is therefore well positioned to innovate in health, too. From the ACCS Web site:

Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) agency of Arlington County, Virginia. ACCS was established in 1989 in order to enhance Arlington’s economic vitality. Its mission involves reducing traffic congestion, decreasing parking demand, promoting maximum use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) infrastructure, and improving air quality and mobility in and around Arlington

And of course, we’re here, and we stand for Total Health….

What next?

We’re interested in creating a hack/code day to connect the literature from the two industries, and the data. I’d also like to schedule a Technology Focus event called “transportation tech,” which would include the pedestrian walking sensors that I am so fond of these days. Our first one, on wearable body sensors, is happening May 3, check it out.

During Datapalooza week (first week of June, 2013), we are in fact hosting a code-a-thon that will support thinking along these lines…stay tuned, mark your calendars :), add your ideas in the comments below, what can we do together?


How do you measure “health status”?!
 Are there any doctors who measure how patients arrive at their offices? Would be great to correlate that with “success” rates for battling illnesses.

@Michael People can spend whole careers studying that, just as, I am sure, transportation experts study outcomes in their field.  One nice measure in Kaiser Permanente’s electronic medical record is the Exercise Vital Sign, which was validated scientifically in October, 2012.
Good thought to ask about how people get to the doctor’s office, modern health systems are delivering care without any travel to any office using real time video for example. I think this is a great area for inquiry – factoring the use of transportation and return on investment in these innovations.
 I think there is a rich conversation to be had if people from both disciplines get into a room together and discuss – these are good questions, don’t you think?

“modern health systems are delivering care without any travel to any office using real time video for example.”
Any idea of the the demographics of those that use this technology?
While local transportation hubs can help inner city families the question to ponder would be how many of these families have computers with video cameras and the internet bandwidth to use this option?

lloydprogroup Hello – don’t assume by “not traveling to any office” means that a person would use video from the home. What is also quite possible is video from medical office to medical office, which saves trips because a patient can get an answer sooner – check out this blog post on what’s happening in this realm in Colorado: – it turns out this can be a great option for a family that doesn’t have home bandwidth – they can have a relationship with a primary care physician that’s very local, and access specialty care that isn’t as close, from their primary doctor’s office,


Ted Eytan, MD