Connecting Data to Our Health Receives Boost at Recent Code-a-Thon

Paul Goddin
Paul is Mobility Lab's urban-affairs and transportation-research reporter. He tells stories about Arlington's innovations in public transportation and under-reported research news.
June 11, 2013

Mobility Lab’s Director Tom Fairchild served as a guest judge in Kaiser Permanente’s recent Code-a-Thon, a competition in which software developers from across the country traveled to the company’s state-of-the-art Center for Total Health in Washington D.C.

The developers worked on different apps envisioned under Kaiser Permanente’s just-launched application programming interface (API) program called Interchange. The apps were focused on connecting healthcare with lifestyle choices.

Fairchild talked to the participants about Mobility Lab’s ongoing research on the correlation between transportation-related lifestyle choices and better health.

Half of the code-a-thon participants focused on using open location-based data to allow for mapping one’s health by finding, for example, the closest farmer’s market or nearby restaurants with heart-healthy menu options.

The other participants worked on apps that would incorporate personal health information from securely-accessed medical records and data imported from devices such as the FitBit to help individuals better manage their own health and fitness. For instance, one app being developed at the Code-a-Thon was dubbed iSnooze, which uses sleep-pattern data and lifestyle information to more accurately diagnose sleep-related problems, under the assumption that prescription sleep aids are overprescribed and widely abused.

The most exciting aspect of Interchange lies in its ability to merge Kaiser Permanente’s securely accessible health data with other open data sets from any number of sources such as transit agencies and Capital Bikeshare.

The possibilities for innovative linkages between health and transportation are enormous and will hopefully benefit consumers in the near future, and many developers at the Code-a-Thon seemed to be moving in that direction. The Code-a-Thon, as well as USDOT’s Data Palooza event, come on the heels of President Obama’s executive order opening federal government data that was previously inaccessible to the private sector. The purpose of Obama’s executive order is similar to Kaiser Permanente’s API: to spur private-sector innovations.

The top developers at the Code-a-Thon won prizes and may have their apps developed by Kaiser Permanente, which hopes to spur innovation by the private sector with the release of Interchange.

Photos by M.V. Jantzen

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ted Eytan MD June 18, 2013 at 11:21 PM

Thanks, Tom, and team for coming to see the future of health at Center for Total Health, where there is an intersection with data, activity, and transportation. We’re happy you’re so close to us so we can continue collaborating!


Tom Fairchild June 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Ted, thank you! We look forward to continued collaborating with you too. Clearly there is a big intersection between transportation, lifestyle and health. There is much that we can do together!


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