Health care projects could yield templates for tackling big problems

U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra discusses the Direct Project and the Blue Button initiative.

I will be attending the HIMSS conference again this year and look forward to a great week exploring new opportunities in health information technology.

There was an excellent panel discussion Sunday at HIMSS that looked at innovation in health care with Aneesh Chopra, CTO of the United States, Peter Levin, CTO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Farzad Mostashari, Deputy National Coordinator at the ONC. They discussed a three-pronged approach to health care innovation:

  1. Invest in the building blocks of innovation, such as R&D and human capital
  2. Set the right policy conditions to foster market-based innovations
  3. Foster an all-hands-on-deck approach to R&D and standards

There was a great deal of focus on the government in its role as a convener and collaborator and using government as a platform for innovation. Using the examples of the Direct Project and the Blue Button initiative as templates for how government can solve not only problems we face in health care in this country, but other sectors such as energy and education as well.

I spoke with Chopra after the panel. He touched on general topics ranging from the Direct Project, to open government, to ways government can act as a platform for innovation. He also discussed:

  • The work of the the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Project at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • How we can use the open and transparent process that led to the Direct Project as a template for other efforts to solve our country’s problems.

The full interview is available in the following video:

Thanks to Open Affairs Television for providing the video for this conversation. They will also be posting video from the entire panel discussion on their site.


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  • David Emery

    Gee, in the DoD world, we’ve been tackling big projects for 60 years (starting with SAGE back in the ’50s, well before my time.) There’s a lot of lessons to be learned there, both good and bad.

    NASA is another source of large system experience. A lot of NASA’s approaches started from DoD experiences, but that’s not to say they’re identical.

  • You’re right David. There is a lot of experience from various departments on managing large projects, and I believe it will be good to have inter-agency learning to develop best practices. One of the things that is exciting about the Direct Project is the open and collaborative public/private partnership that was so successful in producing results. We will see more of this approach in areas like Blue Button, VLER, and other initiatives.