“Hacking Healthcare” is a term coined by Fred Trotter, a journalist and healthcare hactivist, in his book by the same name. Healthcare hacking is white hat hacking to improve the safety, efficiency, transparency, equality, and delivery of healthcare.
At the foundation of hacking healthcare is data. Fred began one of the first efforts to open large US government data on healthcare with a freedom of information request for Medicare provider referral data in 2011. This eventually resulted in the release of the Medicare Physician Referral datasets. Termed “DocGraph” this data set is essentially a social network graph of how US Medicare providers are connected to each other by shared patient visits providing insights into the topology of the US healthcare system. Due to Fred’s efforts, this data is now produced annually by the Center for Medicare Services, and available for download by anyone. Other healthcare data hactivisim for open data has come from many fronts, including ProPublica, an independent, non-profit group of healthcare journalists. Massive healthcare data sets from the US government, including the Food and Drug Administration (openFDA), HealthData.gov, NIH immunology research, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Balancing individual privacy with opening healthcare data for innovation and discovery continues to be a challenge.
The real goal of hacking healthcare is to create innovative ways to collect, wrangle, analyze and display the data for positive change. Here are some examples:
- DocGraph – creating a social network of providers to illuminate the topology of the healthcare system
- Node – a mobile app to track Ebola, Zika and other infectious disease outbreaks
- Hacking your glucometer – a DIY artificial pancreas hack for those with diabetes
- nEmesis – using Twitter feeds and machine learning to identify restaurants where food poisoning has occurred
- Dollars for Docs – an API that displays payments from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to physicians
- 3D printing your brain – an ingenious hack to print the 3D structure of your own brain…BYO CT scan!
So hack away!!!