Data4Health: Live from San Francisco

Nov 20, 2014, 3:47 PM, Posted by Culture of Health Blog Team

Leading national experts discussed using data to build a Culture of Health.

DATE: Thursday, December 4
TIME: 12 p.m.—1:30 p.m. ET/9 a.m.–10:30 a.m. PT


  • Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Andrew Rosenthal, group manager for platform + wellness, Jawbone
  • Gary Wolf, co-founder, Quantified Self Movement
  • Roni Zeiger, CEO, Smart Patients

Blog post by Ivor Horn, MD, Advisory Committee Co-Chair and San Francisco MC

It has truly been a fun experience working with the team at RWJF on the Data for Health Initiative. Since we embarked on this journey at the end of October we have been moving at break neck speed to learn how people throughout the country want to use data to build a Culture of Health. As co-chair of this initiative with Dave Ross, director of the Public Health Informatics Institute, I have had the honor of being a “fly on the wall” during discussions in three amazing cities (Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Des Moines). Each session started with insights from local leaders actively engaged in using data to better understand the communities and populations that they serve. But the power of the meetings has really been the content of the Q&A sessions after the talks. This is when people in the room–the folks with “boots on the ground”–give their input.  


In addition to interacting with brilliant, passionate advocates for health, I have usually walked away from each meeting with as least one key lesson, and I take that lesson to the next meeting. In Philadelphia, one of the participants made a statement that captured the true essence of why we are doing this–she said we need to move from using data to ask “What’s the matter?”  to instead ask “What matters to you?”

In Phoenix, one of our participant experts reminded us that we don’t just need “big data” we need “long data” as well. We need to understand how things are changing over time in order to understand the interventions that make a difference in people’s lives.

Our most recent visit, to Des Moines, just blew me away. The richness of the conversations made me want to stay for another day (and the weather almost did). Someone brought up the importance of the “usability” of big data.  We need to collect it, share it, and use it. 

WOW! Just WOW!

To get an even better flavor of the dialogue so far, check out Storify summaries from Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Des Moines, and previous blog posts by Mike Painter, Susannah Fox, and Matthew Trujillo.

We are compiling all the information from the discussions; after the meetings, we will develop a report in collaboration with our expert committee, to be released by RWJF in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2015. It is our hope that this report will lend voice to those who weren’t in attendance but have a lot to contribute, AND those who are in D.C. all the time. 

So I ask you, “What should using data to build a Culture of Health look like in the future? And how do we get there?”

The next step is yours.