At Health 2.0, Data + Technology = Problem Solving

It’s amazing what can be accomplished in one day when great minds come together to find new ways to address health issues.

About a week ago, participated in a code-a-thon sponsored by Health 2.0 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For those who don’t know, a code-a-thon is essentially a hack-fest — a bunch of coders come together, divide into teams and spend one day building websites, apps, and other technology to tackle problems.

This time around, all the problems focused on health, and about 100 developers turned out. By the end of the day, we saw novel approaches to some serious health issues, including: motivating people to exercise or eat right, developing useful school health records for kids with special needs, and taking advantage of free services available through health reform. A short summary of all the projects developed is available in this blog post on, but here’s a snapshot of one that particularly interested us:

One team from Capito Life Technologies came up with an approach for tracking health records at school for children with special health care needs, and then using those records to keep parents and doctors informed of a child’s condition. Using data from, the team determined that asthma is one of the most common conditions facing this population of children. (42% of kids with special needs in California have asthma.) And, asthma is a condition that affects a large population of children in California — about 15% — and often must be treated during the school day.

The coders developed an online school health records system, so that all of a student’s health information could be stored in one place. The system also would include information about what medications the student is taking, and the prescribed dosages. If a student visited the nurse’s office due to an asthma attack, for example, a nurse could use the online system to record the student’s condition, and note any medication that was given, as well as the outcome.  The system would then send a text message to that student’s parent to keep them up to date on their child’s condition. All the information in the system would be secure and password-protected, and also available for download for a physician or parent.

Amazingly, the team built that entire system in about 7 hours at the code-a-thon.

Maybe it was the inspirational surroundings (the event was held at the Google campus) or maybe it was the competitive spirit among the developers, but everyone at the event was passionate about improving health through technology. And, as you can see, real solutions were created.

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Posted by Felicity Simmons

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 12:04 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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