Feature Articles

A Guide to Bootstrapping Your Open Source Project with GitHub

There's much more to managing a project with git beyond just committing code and working with branches. GitHub-Driven Development is a process that will help you organize and manage the progression of a project on GitHub, although much of this could be applied to other systems, such as GitLab, as well. This concept isn't only for developers; it can be used for project managers or anyone involved in the development of a project—it could even be applied to non-code projects...

Rise of Drones for Medical Supply Delivery

This is not going to all be about getting your books, or your socks, or even your new HD television faster. It is going to impact many industries -- including health care. And that impact has already started to happen. Zipline International, for example, is already delivering medical supplies by drone in Rwanda. They deliver directly to isolated clinics despite any intervening "challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure." They plan to limit themselves to medical supplies, but not only in developing countries; they see rural areas in the U.S. as potential opportunities as well. Last fall they raised $25 million in Series B funding. Drones are also being considered for medical supply delivery in Guyana, Haiti, and the Philippines...

Open Labs Leads 48-Hour Hackathon for Good

The local hackerspace in Tirana, Albania might be small, but they make up for size in spirit. During the weekend of March 18-19, 2017, the Open Labs Hackerspace organized the first-ever, 48-hour "open source" hackathon focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are 17 objectives identified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build a better world, starting in our own communities. Some of the goals include quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, clean energy, and more....

HHS Ventures Team Helps Detect Disease Outbreaks

It was a no brainer for the HHS Ventures Fund to include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) GHOST project in its latest round of funding. There are about 3.5 million Americans infected with Hepatitis C (HCV), which attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and other serious health problems, according to the latest data collected by the CDC. This CDC Ventures team is developing a cloud-based, public health research tool to help state and local health departments more quickly detect and fight the spread of disease. The team calls their system GHOST – Global Hepatitis Outbreak Surveillance Technology...

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A Major Lesson from Ebola: Pandemics Are Strongly Driven by Inequality

After more than a year since the Ebola pandemic appeared in West Africa, Liberia – one of the worst hit countries – has been declared free of the virus. However, the initial global response was not encouraging. Despite having the knowledge and technology needed to contain the outbreak, help was initially sluggish and poorly effective. This situation illustrates one of the major lessons from the history of pandemics: that they are strongly influenced by health inequalities. Pandemics are epidemics that spread widely and cross borders. In many respects, the world is a safer place for those concerned about these emerging infectious diseases – advances in science, particularly molecular biology, information technology, and epidemiology give us unprecedented tools for understanding, tracking and managing emerging threats...

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When It Comes to Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, We Should Ask More and Listen Better

A new study in JAMA suggests that nearly one-in-three drugs approved by the FDA between 2001 and 2010 had post-market safety issues, which caused safety communications to physicians and consumers, "black-box" warnings on labels, and drug withdrawals. It is not clear how many patients may have died or otherwise harmed by these issues...Lead author Joseph Ross, M.D., noted: "No drug is completely safe, and during premarket evaluation, we are not going to pick up all the safety signals," and urged "that we have a strong system in place to continually evaluate drugs and to communicate new safety concerns quickly and effectively."

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OpenMRS Announces 2017 Google Summer of Code students

Congratulations to the 15 students selected by OpenMRS to participate in Google Summer of Code™ this year! A total of nearly 1,400 students were selected to participate with 201 different open-source projects. As the organization administrators for the program, we are thrilled to announce our 11th year of participation yet in the annual event graciously sponsored by Google. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in this great program in the last 10 years and are even more excited about the students, projects and mentors that are participating this year. Coding for OpenMRS is a great way for university students to practice coding skills and at the same time help benefit people in developing countries who are on the front lines of the battle against HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and other public health challenges. Read More »

Leveraging the "Learning Health Community" Concept in Education

This idea of an iterative engaged learning environment (we can call it a “Learning Health Community”) is not far-fetched. Such a system would require quality evidence-based data and information delivered in real-time based on the real-world experiences of millions of patients. As new verified information and data develop, these would be incorporated and then deployed. We would harness the power of existing and future knowledge in a form that is usable by both medical professionals and the patients they serve. The questioning fathers and others similarly situated could access the Internet for augmented and personalized health information.

Halamka on "The Dark Side of E-commerce"

As I mentioned in a recent post, Amazon has focused on the convenience of the customer instead of the convenience of their business. Yesterday’s New York Times highlighted the trend for the hotel industry to do the same. In my post, I lamented that some industries including old school industrial companies and healthcare have not widely adopted customer focused technologies. To their credit, Marvin Windows followed up with me and promised to accelerate their automation efforts. I was impressed. However, all is not completely rosy in the transformation from brick and mortar to e-commerce...

Clicks-and-Mortar: Health Care's Future

The woes of the retail industry are well known, and are usually blamed on the impact of the Internet.  Credit Suisse projects that 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores will close in 2017, which would beat the record set in 2008, at the height of the last recession.  There are "zombie malls," full of empty stores but not yet shuttered. And then there's health care, where the retail business is booming. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Christopher Mims set forth Three Hard Lessons the Internet is Teaching Traditional Stores.  The lessons are: Data is King, Personalization + Automation = Profits, Legacy Tech Won't Cut It.

Europeana adds 470,000 images to Creative Commons Search

CC Search beta has added 470,000 images from the millions of materials contained in Europeana’s collection of Creative Commons images. Europeana is Europe’s digital platform for cultural heritage, collecting and providing online access to over 54 million of digitised items ranging from books, photos, and paintings to television broadcasts and 3D objects. As an important cultural partner to CC, Europeana’s platform strengthens the commons through its large, searchable collection of digital records from nearly 4,000 European libraries, archives, museums and audiovisual galleries...

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Open Data Projects Win Wellcome Trust, NIH and HHMI Open Science Prize

The Open Science Prize, a new initiative from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Wellcome Trust, encourages and supports open science approaches that generate benefit to society, advance research and spur innovation. An integral component of the selection process is demonstrated use and generation of open data, so PLOS is proud that this year’s winner of the Open Science Prize is PLOS author and evolutionary, computational biologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington...

Healthcare Innovation: Think Bigger, Fail Often.

Alan Kay recently outlined some of the principles that he thought made Xerox's PARC so successful (if you don't know who Alan Kay is or why PARC was so special, you should try to find out).  One was: "'It's baseball,' not 'golf'...Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits." That doesn't quite square with my impression of golf, but I take the point.  It's about the price of success. As psychologist Dean Simonton pointed out in Origins of Genius: "The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well."  "Quality," he wrote, "is a probabilistic function of quantity." We talk a lot about innovation these days, especially "disruptive innovation."  Why not?  It sounds cool, it allows people to think they're on the cutting edge, and it often excites investors.  But perhaps we've lost sight of what it is supposed to actually be...

Health Datapalooza 2017 – The Data Revolution Rolls On

The 8th annual Health Datapalooza returns on April 26 – 28 and offers a re-imagined vision of health and health care through the lens of data. In years past, Health Datapalooza has set its sights on health-care startups, apps, big data, electronic health records – you name it – but the main thrust was always more about the business of health care and how tech and data are used to innovate. The annual conference for data geeks, developers, health tech venture capitalists, and start-up wannabes, among others, will this year triangulate around the idea that the patient should be at the center of health care.

HHS IDEA Lab to Host Innovation Day on May 15

Join us for HHS Innovation Day on May 15th at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C., where you’ll experience first-hand how new approaches and creative thinking can advance our work in government. You’ll hear from stellar employees at HHS who are using entrepreneurial methods like design thinking and lean startup to improve how their office or agency delivers on the HHS mission. The day will also feature a panel on deploying creative thinking to improve work in government, and innovative speakers from government and the private sector.

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