Chelsea Clinton leads digital technology, health discussion

January 14th, 2014 | by Rob Hopwood | Comments

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(From left to right, moderator Chelsea Clinton and panelists Peter Tippett, Travis Bogard, Kathy Chang, Dane Atkinson and Michael Maness. / Photo by Robert Hopwood, The Desert Sun)

Chelsea Clinton has used this year’s Health Matters Conference to spotlight ways to use data and technology to help people improve their health.

On Tuesday, Clinton moderated a panel discussion about how to leverage digital platforms to promote health. It continued her focus on health-related technologies that began Friday with the start of a three-day codeathon at the ACE Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.

Despite the sunny, warm afternoon in La Quinta, conference participants gathered inside an auditorium to hear Clinton, the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, and five panelists talk about how technology and data could be merged in ways that help people make better decisions and live healthier lives.

“Thank you all for ignoring the beautiful weather outside,” said Clinton, who earlier in the week left a cold New York for the warmth of the Coachella Valley.

As the discussion got underway, panelist Travis Bogard, the senior vice president for Jawbone, said he was excited about the opportunity people now have to use data in real time to improve public health.

“I think we’ve been flying blind,” he said. “It’s hard to improve on something you can’t measure.”

Jawbone makes the popular UP wristband, which monitors a person’s movement, sleep, mood and eating habits. People can use the data it gathers to better understand how they’re sleeping, eating and feeling.

“We’re really at the point in time where we can leverage these digital platforms to really both understand what’s going and improve and have a positive impact on health in real time,” said Bogard.

The gadgets people carry with them can be used to turn data into specific recommendations, like telling someone to drink more water, noted panelist Kathy Chang, the founder of Moro. She has developed a smartphone app that helps people stay hydrated.

The data available to doctors, researchers, programmers and developers goes far beyond what is captured by a few consumer devices, and panelists discussed ways big data and technology could be used to improve public health.

“Connecting the data, putting it together, putting in social data, putting in web data, finding other patterns, and finding places where we can change things, works,” said panelist Dane Atkinson, CEO of data analytics company SumAll.

Data analysis has been used to help combat homelessness and human trafficking, he said, but organizing and analyzing it so it can be visualized is a massive undertaking.

Whatever emerges from that effort should be simple to use, easy to understand, allow people to personalize it and inspire them to take action, the panelists agreed.

Panelist Michael Maness, vice president of Journalism & Media Innovation at the Knight News Foundation, said he hopes that as people start to see the power health data can have in their lives, they’ll start to explore and use data more.

The panelists included Peter Tippett, chief innovation officer for Verizon; Bogard; Chang; Maness; and Atkinson.

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