‘Healthier’ decision making through information technology: report from ‘Health 2.0′ conference, San Francisco

San Francisco served as the host city for the 5th Annual Health 2.0 conference on 25–27 September 2011, which gathered more than 1,500 people interested and actively involved in innovation in health care through information technology. I had the privilege to attend this conference and in a report published on ecancermedicalscience I shared the highlights of the event: from new tools to redesign medical data; to synergistic interactions between web 2.0 tools and public health; to the use of the internet as a positive catalyst for behavioral change to improve health and lifestyle; to direct to consumer genetic testing that drive a new, community-driven approach to research and to electronic health records adoption and data liberation. Among the big names presenting at the conference were Thomas Goetz, chief editor of Wired,who recently published a book titled “The Decision Tree’, where he describes how to use health information technology tools to achieve better decisions in the new era of personalized medicine. Anne Wojcicki was another of one of the big names present this year in San Francisco. Anne is the cofounder and CEO of 23&me, one of the most successful direct to consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies. 23&me has been constantly expanding since it was founded in 2007, and is now not only a DTC-provider but also fostering collaborative research on the genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.The main thread linking all of the initiatives presented at Health2.0 is a participatory approach to health that involves all stakeholders ‘who have a hand in healthcare’. The participatory nature of Health 2.0 was highlighted by Lygeia Ricciardi, Senior Policy Adviser at the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), who defined Health 2.0 as ‘participatory health and healthcare for patients, consumers and caregivers, as well as more traditional members of the health team, as doctors, nurses, other providers working together collaboratively to improve care’. The concept of participation in health-care was also very visibly embodied by the work of Regina Holliday, artist and patient advocate. Regina was also the designated artist of the logo for this edition of the Health 2.0 conference (see picture), where she created a wonderful mural symbolizing the interwoven interactions between doctors, patients, organizations, and health care providers, which, in theory, could lead to a dramatically improved health care.

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