Friday, May 18, 2012

Health Foo 2012

After about a year's interval, it is the return of Health Foo to Cambridge.  Organized by O'Reilly Publications (Sara Winge and Tim O'Reilly) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Paul Tarini), this is a self-organizing conference at which people decide if and when they want to present sessions on whatever topics they choose. You attend whatever you want. You talk with anyone you want. You avoid people you know and try to meet new ones.

Among the new ones for me was Jose Gomez-Marquez, who runs the Little Devices lab at MIT (seen here with Tim O'Reilly). He notes: "We make DIY (do it yourself) medical technologies for affordable health care and lots of stuff for the developing world. I'm interested in empowerment technologies for patients and providers so they can come up with their own solutions. We play with adherence technologies, simple aerosol vaccines delivery systems, and recently, using the global supply chain of toys to prototype medical tech."  Jose also is involved in something he calls "real-time epidemiology," collecting population diagnostics from remote devices, like iPhones, as people go about their daily lives.

Jill Shah of Jill's List is a returning camper.  Her website provides a searchable database that connects patients with local integrative heath practitioners, but goes beyond that and offers a variety of resources to both consumer and practitioners.

I was pleased to meet Meg Wirth, too, who runs an organization called Maternova, devoted to tools and ideas that save mothers and newborns throughout the world.  Her site explains:  "We make it easy for doctors, nurses and midwives to track innovation and to buy prebundled tools to use overseas. Our focus is on tools and protocols that save lives in childbirth. We are a mission-driven for-profit."

A bit less serious in purpose but intriguing is a new application offered by Riley Crane and colleagues at Talkto.  Currently accepting users from the Boston area, you can think of Talkto as an alternative to Siri on the iPhone.  You can punch in queries to any number of question, plus arrange for reservations and other services, with quick connections to and responses from local businesses.

Finally, I ran into a former colleague, Mark Boguski, co-founder of PhotoCalorie, a company with an application that helps you manage your nutrition with assistance with portion control, a food journal, and an optional connection to your physician.

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