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Meet the Pioneers - Fred Trotter - Mr. Big Open Health Data


With very little time we had a big event idea.  It didn't work out, but the core of it, spending time with Pioneer Fred Trotter did.  So now the event is on, scaled down with great food in a more intimate setting and being run by Vivian Zhang over at NYC Open Data.

Below is the original write up but essentially this is just Fred Trotter from DocGraph and Jeff Borenstein from MedStartr doing our Pioneer Pitch Day presentations.  Lots of Open Data programmers too.  Should still be great!


(Original write up follows)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held a contest to be allowed to pitch an amazing panel of leaders in healthcare and perhaps have a chance at a coveted RWJF Pioneer Grant. This is a badge of honor that every healthcare startup would love to have, especially since they range from 100 to 300K generally and are non-dilutive.

Their first every Pioneer Pitch day is this Wednesday, but it is not open to the public and I think we all would love to meet the Pioneers.  Since our group and MedStartr are all about bringing the crowds to healthcare innovation, we decided to make an event while all these pioneers are here.

Since 25% of the finalists happen to also be MedStartrs (companies that have gone live on MedStartr and gotten found, funded, customers, and partners) I (Alex) know at least two of the companies at Pitch Day will be coming.

We will invite all 8 and let everyone give a preview of their talk for the following day.

This is very short notice, we know, so the event may be a little less organized than usual, but we think it will still be awesome. Content is king in our book and since these are the top Pioneers, as selected by the likes of Mike Painter, Tom Geotz, and Lori Melichar, we know it will be an amazing show.

This event is also in conjunction with the NYC Open Data Group, so that should be fun too!

About the RWJF Pioneer Program:

In 2003, RWJF created the Pioneer Portfolio—a clear commitment to harnessing this pipeline of emerging ideas to serve the social good.

The Pioneer Portfolio is uniquely suited to invest in innovation at many different stages. they seek to:

• Identify and explore new issues and approaches.

• Accelerate progress on issues and approaches that have significant potential to create breakthroughs in health and health care.

• Support projects that use original, unconventional, or cross-sectoral approaches to create transformative change.

I must say, I think I know a few companies like that.  Maybe that is why a full 25% of this year's Pioneer Pitchers are also MedStartrs, including MedStartr itself, which grew out of this little ole' meetup group, that's you!

Here are the RWJF Pioneers that I know are coming:

MedStartr by Jeff Borenstein (oh yeah!) I think you know enough about MedStartr, but if not, please visit, the leading crowdfunding site for healthcare. We also do events like this one, Challenges like this one, and will soon be enabling equity crowdfunding on  Apply to be part of that launch here.

DocGraph, FoodGraph, and DocGraphRx by Fred Trotter - Let me just be frank here, Fred is my hero, I am a complete fan boy for his work -  larger than life, quick with a rant, great with data, and persistent as all get out.  He also is running two more projects on MedStartr as we speak so go fund the man!

I don't know if everyone else is coming, but we will invite them all.

Here is the content, taken directly from the RWJF site.

The Pioneer team selected eight ideas to advance to Pitch Day out of more than 500 submissions. While the finalists prepare their pitches, here’s a look at the 1,000-character proposals that got them this far:

Breaking Barriers in Medical Knowledge (Fred's)

Creating a Social Epidemic of Safety

The Human Genome + the Human Exposome = Your Health

Implementing Risk-Based Cancer Screening Using an Adaptive Learning Engine

Let Us Decide How Research Funding is Allocated: Medical Innovation By the People and For the People (Alex's)

MD 360

Rapid Evaluation of Apps

Use Randomization and Social Networking to Crowd Source Rigorous Lifestyle Health Experiments

Breaking Barriers in Medical Knowledge

Author: Fred Trotter
Organization: Not Only Development

Description: What if you could remove the barriers involved in accessing and understanding medical knowledge? What if engaged patients had a clear path to becoming experts in their own condition? What if primary care doctors had a clear path to understanding specialist topics? What if specialists had a clear path to understanding and disseminating advances in their field? Right now, the way information dissemination happens in healthcare is deeply broken. Patients cannot learn enough. Doctors don't have time to teach patients or each other. Medical students are overwhelmed with more and more information in each class. Medical science is leaping forward, but medical practice is not keeping up. We can fix this. How? I could go into how to merge Big Data, Crowd sourcing, Graph Analysis and Wikipedia to fix this problem. But then were would the mystery be in that? We think we have found a way to fix this problem. We would like to pitch you on how exactly.

Creating a Social Epidemic of Safety

Author: Sarah Henrickson Parker, Allan Fong and Raj Ratwani
Organization: MedStar Health

Description: Did you know the safest part of your visit to the hospital is your drive? Conservative estimates suggest 98k patients die annually in hospitals across the country from preventable error. We will change this by showing that safe care is contagious. Patient safety is fundamentally tied to the culture of the clinical staff. Changing culture involves not just implementing best practices, but correctly targeting the influencers and connectors in social networks. By utilizing technological advances in sociometric measurement and analysis to identify and target social influencers within a healthcare system, we will use their influence to improve safety. With expertise in human factors, sociometrics, healthcare and influence our team is poised to create lasting culture change. Our proposal leverages existing social networks within healthcare to create a social epidemic of safety. At some point, each one of us will be a patient –lets create the best and safest care possible together.

The Human Genome + the Human Exposome = Your Health

Authors: Elise Miller
Organizations: Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE)

Description: In the push towards personalized medicine, the human genome should only be considered part of the equation. Epigenetic markers, influenced by a range of environmental factors, are also crucial to understanding a person’s susceptibility to disease. Recently there’s been a call to map the human exposome – i.e., all environmental exposures starting from conception, including nutritional, chemical, psychosocial, etc. With this information, health professionals will be better able to reduce risk and prioritize prevention. Widespread use of electronic health records provides an opportunity to develop standardized questions about people’s exposures. Since early life development influences health across the lifespan, obstetric records are a good place to start. Not only would this enhance health professionals’ ability to make recommendations early on, it would provide a database for studying correlations between exposures and diseases that appear later in life – and in turn, radically increase options for improving individual and public health.

Implementing Risk-Based Cancer Screening Using an Adaptive Learning Engine

Author: Laura Esserman; Margaret (Peggy) O'Kane and Clarence So
Organizations: Athena Breast Health Network (UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, UCD, UCI, Sanford Health); National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA); Salesforce

Description: Cancer screening impacts every person costs billions of dollars and is mired in rancorous debate. We are not making progress in reducing false positives, over diagnosis or potential overtreatment. We need to disrupt this practice with a fundamentally new approach, a risk-based screening approach, incorporating scientific evidence for the most effective screening frequency, and new biomarkers of risk and patient choice. By profiling tumors that arise, we will learn who is at risk for what type of cancer and facilitate tailoring treatment to biology. Using an adaptive learning model, we can accelerate and implement effective change and precision medicine. A learning system will allow us to continuously improve screening and integrate prevention while reducing the negative consequences and cost of screening immediately, not 30 years from now. The Athena Breast Health Network, a collaboration of specialists integrating research and clinical care, is uniquely positioned to champion this change.

Let Us Decide How Research Funding is Allocated: Medical Innovation By the People and For the People

Author: Alex Fair
Organization: MedStartr, Inc.

Description: New ideas are needed to make better medicines, develop better devices, and provide better care. These ideas are generally developed through grants and investments. While we pay the taxes and overpay for devices and medicines to fund this R & D, we have No Say in what ideas are selected for grants or investments. Of the 100 Billion dollars spent in 2011 on healthcare innovations, executives at pharma companies decided 50B; our government decided another 30B, and investors decided 17B. Isn't it time we, the people, had a say in what ideas come next medical innovation? We just ran the first ever government-sponsored contest to see where 40,000 taxpayer dollars would be invested, in which medical innovation. Would you believe that the public not only voted, but also kicked in another $16,000 of their own voluntarily! This is democracy in action where we decide what is best, and our government allocates funding accordingly. It works, now let's scale it up!

MD 360

Author: Tara Bishop
Organization: Weill Cornell Medical College

Description: There are essentially three ways that people, products, or services can be rated. First, ratings can use objective measures such as grades or scores. The New York City Department of Health uses an objective grading system to assign cleanliness grades to restaurants. Second, ratings can be based on expert opinion or someone we trust like the food or movie critic. Finally, ratings can be based on users’ or recipients’ feedback like those found on website like Yelp and Tripadvisor. Individually, each rating system has merits but also flaws. For example, objective ratings may miss areas that are important but difficult to measure. Expert opinion and crowdsourcing may be too subjective. Ideally, we would have a rating system for doctors and other healthcare providers that incorporates all of these elements: objective measures, reputation among peers, and crowd rating. MD 360 will develop a three-pronged approach to rating doctors by compiling available information on objective measures of quality, reputation among peers, and websites like Yelp, Healthgrades, and Vital Signs. MD 360 has the potential to significantly improve the way we rate doctors and healthcare

Rapid Evaluation of Apps

Author:  Bianca Frogner, PhD
Organization: The George Washington University

Description: Approximately 40,000 medical and health apps are available on the market and the number is on the rise. Identifying the “most effective” health app by rigorous evaluation methods is a challenge because a good health outcome is nebulous to define, the technological environment is changing rapidly, the pool of talented evaluators is small, and funding levels are low relative to the number of available apps. But the goal may become critical as medical providers want move towards prescribing apps the way they would prescribe a pill, and insurers reimburse for such services. My vision is to develop a rapid evaluation system that establishes standard metrics, and integrates expert and user experience, download statistics, rate of return measures, and spatial search patterns. The evaluation system will combine tools from economics and engineering. The evaluation system will be designed to integrate into electronic health record systems, and used by medical providers and insurers to identify the “most effective” health app.

Use Randomization and Social Networking to Crowd Source Rigorous Lifestyle Health Experiments

Author: Christopher T. Robertson
Organization: University of Arizona/Harvard Law School

Description: Randomization is the primary tool for scientists to make causal inferences. The public too loves games of chance: gambling and lotteries are huge industries and important pastimes. Can these be linked? Lifestyles drive much of health spending, but the public is prudent to be wary of elite claims to knowledge (think: new fasting diets based on tiny studies, and the reversal of decades of sodium advice). Let’s create a platform that engages social networks to enroll millions of people in large-scale randomized experiments. Use mobile phones, apps, and linked devices (e.g., cameras, activity monitors, and scales) to collect data and provide feedback and encouragement. Let citizen-scientists design their own studies, within a rigorous safe, scientific, and ethical environment. Even aside from the gold-standard scientific findings, behavioral science suggests that the pre-commitment, randomization, monitoring, and social support may help individuals try and succeed in lifestyle changes that would otherwise elude them.

Following Pitch Day, one or more of these teams will be invited to meet with Pioneer program staff and will potentially be invited to submit a full proposal for funding.

Thank you for your support!

We are all Pioneers in this group, so assemble your thoughts and apply to pitch anytime.

Best Regards,

Alex Fair

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  • A former member
    A former member


    Do you know if any of the other finalists will be attending, or is it still just MedStartr and Fred at the moment?


    October 15, 2013

    • Alex F.

      Hey Sameer, it was just us. We asked everyone else but they were not able to come.

      October 16, 2013

  • Jeffrey B.

    Meet up time has changed to 7pm. Apologize for the confusion.

    October 15, 2013

  • Alex F.

    Venues welcome!

    October 13, 2013

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