Building Bridges in the City by the Bay - The 2011 Health 2.0 Conference

Aug 29, 2011, 4:13 AM, Posted by Steve Downs

We have a few questions for you.

Every day there are people who are finding new ways and developing new technologies to observe or collect information about themselves that has the power to improve health.

For example, Pioneer’s Project HealthDesign researchers are exploring practical ways for people to collect their own ODLs (observations of daily living) and integrate them into the clinical setting – empowering individuals to be at the center of their own care.

The pioneers at Open mHealth are equally committed to involving individuals in their own health and health care as they create an open learning ecosystem and share innovative technologies to improve everyone’s health.

In another cutting-edge movement, self-trackers who seek “self knowledge through numbers” are gaining insights into their own health and health-related behaviors everyday. The number of tools, apps and devices to help them are increasing exponentially, and it seems as if we’ve only scratched the surface of what people are starting to do by collecting and sharing their health-related data.

Today’s reality is that individuals have the opportunity to have the power of their own health information literally in the palms of their hands. We can point to when our blood pressure was high during the day, how our diet impacted our energy levels or sleep, what movements or behaviors caused a flare-up in back pain.

But how many will choose to track this information? Can self-tracking become mainstream in the next two years? What about five, 10 or 20 years? And if it does, then what do we do?

How do we make sure that information is put to its best use, both for us personally and the population as a whole? As patients, what do we want our doctors to do with our self-generated data? What do our doctors want us to track, and how? How do they integrate it into our diagnoses and treatment plans?

These are some of the questions we’ll be asking this coming week, September 25-28, at the 2011 Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. We’re excited to be a sponsor of this event and we’ve brought a diverse group of grantees and friends with us.

We’ve been involved in the broader Health 2.0 space for some time now. Through our investments in programs like Project HealthDesign, Open mHealth and support of groups like Quantified Self, we’ve been trying to bridge the worlds of technologies and health, and the experiences of patients and clinicians.

Over the course of the conference and beyond, we’ll be asking guests to help us tackle several questions that we think are critical if this movement is to reach its full potential—and we’d like your ideas too.

So tell us what you think. Help us answer these questions. Please add your comments below. You can also message us privately at

  1. What do you think are the most important challenges to be addressed in order to get more people collecting their own health data and information?
  2. What do you think are the most important hurdles to be overcome for patients to bring this information to their doctors and for it to inform clinical care? 
  3. Of all the things that one can track, what is the one piece of patient-generated data that has the most potential value to both personal health and clinical care?

As we look for opportunities to advance the thoughtful exploration of these practices, your responses will guide us. We value your input and look forward to hearing what you have to say.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.