About Pioneering Ideas

Pioneering Ideas is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog that explores cutting-edge ideas and emerging trends that have the potential to dramatically improve health and health care and accelerate our progress to achieve a culture of health. Here you’ll get insight from RWJF program staff into the types of innovative ideas we fund and learn about people, projects and ideas that have captured our attention. Join the conversation by commenting on our posts or connecting with us on Twitter at @pioneerrwjf. And, if you have a pioneering idea for transforming health and health care, consider sharing a brief proposal.  

 

Discover Positive Health: New Website Launches

May 9, 2014, 12:25 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

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Are you interested in the connection between physical and psychological health? Intrigued about how positive health assets may help us stay healthy and recover more quickly from illness? Looking for ways to stay up-to-speed on the latest research?

Check out the new Positive Health Research website, a valuable resource for those who are exploring the concept of positive health.

Some of the more recent research featured on the website includes:

  • A study into whether life satisfaction impacts how often someone visits the doctor
  • A study that found psychological well-being is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension

Over the past five years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded research to help identify the health assets that produce stronger health, in collaboration with the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. This new website showcases the most promising research around the concept of positive health, providing evidence that has the potential to change the way we think about health and health care.

The Case for Journeying to the Center of Our Social Networks

May 5, 2014, 11:07 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

James Fowler James Fowler, Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science at UCSD

James Fowler is Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. His work lies at the intersection of the natural and social sciences, with a focus on social networks, behavior, evolution, politics, genetics, and big data. Together with RWJF grantee Nicholas Christakis, Fowler wrote a book on social networks for a general audience called Connected.

By James Fowler

In recent weeks, much has been made of David Lazer’s finding that Google’s Flu Trends tracker seriously missed the mark in its measurement of flu activity for 2012-2013—and in previous years, too. For those who don’t know, Flu Trends monitors Google search behaviors to identify regions where searches related to flu-like symptoms are spiking.

In spite of Flu Trend’s notable misstep, Lazer still believes in the power of marrying health and social data. In discussing the results of his study, he has maintained Google Flu is “a terrific” idea—one that just needs some refining. I agree.

And, earlier this month, Nicholas Christakis, several other colleagues, and I—with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—published a new method offering one such refinement. Our paper shows that, in a given social network (in this study’s case, Twitter), a sample of its most connected, central individuals can hold significant predictive power. We call this potentially powerful group of individuals a “sensor group.”

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Explore Opportunities and Trends at Health Datapalooza

Apr 28, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

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We’re a little over a month away from the 2014 Health Datapalooza (HDP) conference. For those of you who don’t know, HDP—an event of the Health Data Consortium, which RWJF supports—is a great venue to explore the opportunities and trends of open health data.

Trying to get a firm understanding of this space can be challenging, but HDP brings it all together. The conference has tracks focusing on the use of open data by businesses and consumers, in community and clinical settings, and for research purposes.

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A Conversation with the Health Data Exploration Project

Mar 31, 2014, 1:12 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Person tracking their health data on a mobile device.

RWJF’s Lori Melichar and Steve Downs sat down with grantees Kevin Patrick and Jerry Sheehan who lead the Health Data Exploration project to discuss early insights from their work, shared in the recent report Personal Data for the Public Good: New Opportunities to Enrich Understanding of Individual and Population Health.”

Patrick and Sheehan are working on a team that is exploring the use of personal health data in research and how to bridge the “worlds” of individuals who track data about their own personal health, companies that develop tracking apps and devices and typically hold these data, and health researchers.

Here are highlights from their conversation:

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Creating a Knowledge Map with Stanford Medical School

Mar 24, 2014, 1:00 PM, Posted by Mike Painter

Mike Painter, senior program officer Mike Painter, senior program officer

Why should I be in the same room with these people?

That’s one of the many smart questions participants posed at a Stanford Medical School meeting I attended last weekend.  If I had been daydreaming (I’d never do that), I might have thought the question was for me. You see, the participants were a handpicked set of national medical education experts, folks nominally from the status quo medical-education-industrial complex—the very thing we’re trying to change.

You might think that they embodied that dreaded status quo.  I’m happy to report they did not—not even close.  I’m also relieved to tell you that the question (in spite of my paranoia) wasn’t for me. Instead, it was one of many challenges these thoughtful, passionate teachers tossed at each other.

“Why are we in the room?” was a challenge to each other. Why and when should teachers be in the same room with the learners?

When you think about it, that’s actually a central question if you’re attempting to use online education to flip the medical education experience.  It’s also a brave one if you’re a teacher: justify the time you spend with your students.

Read the rest of this post on The Health Care Blog