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Todd Park

U.S. CTO Todd Park delivering a keynote speech at the Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. (Photo: David Stegon/FedScoop)

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park on Tuesday gave an impassioned speech to America’s health care innovators, urging them to use newly released government data to fuel a revolution in the country’s health care.

With the liberation of government data, along with funding provided by the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act, Park said there has literally never been a better time in history to be an innovator or entrepreneur in the health care space as technology can work to save and improve lives, reduce costs and give patients more control over their own care.

“I can’t think of more important work for American innovation,” Park said in keynoting the second day of Health Datapalooza IV, held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. “It will be incredibly hard work, but as I’ve learned, things that are truly worthwhile are always difficult. I have every confidence that you will succeed, because I know to never bet against American innovators and entrepreneurs, especially those as full of heart, soul and power as you.”

Speaking before more than 2,000 attendees, who included a mix of federal and state government leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and developers, Park laid out four key areas that are helping improve health care through technology.

  • The Affordable Care Act has helped to create a smarter health care system that focuses on quality and making fewer mistakes than before by rewarding health care organizations for proactive care that optimizes the innovative use of data. “These efforts reward the stitch in time,” Park said.
  • The Health and Human Services Department has led a number of open data health initiatives that aim to put information in machine-readable and patient-downloadable formats. For example, Park said, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has created a new Office of Information Products and Data Analytics that is looking to push the envelope in open health care data.
  • Over the past five years, there has been a historic increase in the use of electronic health records as half of all eligible doctors and 80 percent of hospital use them, Park said. “The manila folders of old are turning into electrons,” he said.
  • This fall, the federal government will open its Health Insurance Marketplace that will give citizens and businesses different health care options and provide entrepreneurs and innovators with a variety of opportunities to use data in new and exciting ways.

Park added these efforts are just a starting point, as more opportunities are coming down the pike.

“The revolution is here, but this is just the beginning,” said Park, who was one of the founders of the Datapalooza three years ago when serving as CTO at HHS. Back then, the event featured about 45 participants. “Innovators are already doing amazing things, helping to create tools to allow people to take part in their own health care, along with creating jobs in the process, but there is still so much more to be done.”

To push the development community, Park gave them three tasks going forward:

  • Help connect every American to high-quality, affordable health care by creating new offerings that use data and technology.
  • “Keep bringing your mojo to bear,” Park said, meaning keep looking for creative ways to use technology to improve the quality of care.
  • And finally, put patient data in the hands of patients. Park quoted Leonard Kish, a strategy consultant who works with health care technology companies, saying patient engagement is the “blockbuster drug of the 21st century,” and organizations need to continue to find ways to do that, either adopting the Blue Button+ protocol or creating a new ecosystem of apps and services.