I have been participating, as a subject matter expert, in a little bit of the brainstorming and project-generating phases of a Code for KC health care oriented effort designed to generate one or two volunteer coding projects that will be initiated in June, completed by the end of the year, and hope to benefit a health care improvement stakeholder in its work.
What an amazing experience it has been to listen to the pitches, participate in brainstorms, and marvel over the sorry state of much health care (meaning both clinical health and public health) data. I find the premise that those with the tech skills need to collaborate with those with the subject matter skills in order to produce a project and a deliverable that will actually be useful and be used by an entity that promotes health compelling. I have learned about some amazing projects in the greater Kansas City area, often operating on a shoe-string budget, designed to improve health care access and health in astonishingly creative ways.
I cannot forget some of what I have heard discussed: Might Serious Mental Illness (SMI) screening kiosks work for homeless or transient populations? Are organized churches in the African-American community good sites for congregate health education on nutrition and self-care for those with Type II Diabetes or pre-Type II Diabetes? How can low income individuals learn about and learn to use community-based access to health care transportation resources? Can we use diagnostic "hot spot" mapping to learn more about the social determinants of health — say, for example, the relationship between Emergency Department pediatric asthma attack visits and the prevalence of sub-standard housing?
Many jurisdictions, state,county, municipal, and even neighborhood, keep far more data than is commonly available in Kansas City on disease incidence and diagnosis. The way I see it, the real grand challenge for Code for KC: Health Care Projects is to explain why we have so little health care data, why it is so poorly organized, and how we hope to improve anything if we measure so little?
Code for KC's Health Interest Group meets Monday evenings at the Sprint Accelerator,from 6-8PM, if you are also haunted by these questions.