Indiana’s healthcare app Connect-a-thon draws talent, innovation

On April 23-24, Indiana HIMSS, Eskenazi Health, and hosted a Connect-a-thon that brought together 80 talented software developers and innovators to build next generation apps aimed at improving healthcare via interoperability.

Participants were challenged with creating apps that leveraged the Fast Healthcare In-teroperability Resource (FHIR) standard, which is gaining momentum as a highly effi-cient way for systems to exchange data securely in healthcare. Seventeen agile teams were formed and each was given the requirement to integrate useful apps with the Ep-ic EHR system via FHIR. Over a couple days, these teams successfully created solu-tions to address critical healthcare challenges including the identification of at-risk pa-tients, gauging overall quality of the patient experience, and enabling outstanding ser-vice across the care continuum.

It was an exciting event that proved an important point with extraordinary implications for the future of healthcare: when major HIS vendors like Epic open up to partnerships and collaboration, everyone benefits. This shift from the traditional closed and proprie-tary approach, characterized as "data blocking," to an open approach that supports in-tegrated third party apps to accelerate innovation is mandatory to succeed in today's consumer-driven environment. Without it, a disjointed customer experience will be per-petuated because patient information is locked in data silos.

Over the past decade, health system executives have rushed to implement electronic health records (EHRs) and enhanced billing systems to document care episodes and to code and bill for procedures. While important, these back office functions don't serve the needs of patients demanding improved service and proactive engagement from their providers. If these systems are to provide value to both patients and providers, they must be open in order to facilitate information access and transparency for pa-tients across multiple providers and care settings.

The iPhone serves as a good model for connected healthcare. As Apple has shown with the iPhone, the key to innovation and value is to provide an open platform, ena-bling thousands of innovators to develop apps that meet the many unique needs of consumers. With apps, healthcare can truly become connected.

The teams participating in the Connect-a-thon came from states across the nation. Sponsors and organizers included research organizations (such as Regenstrief Insti-tute), healthcare technology companies (such as Epic, and Intelligent Medical Objects), and individual software developers.

The winning group, "Team Illini" from Intelligent Medical Objects, built a medication ad-herence app that sends text/mobile reminders to patients to take and refill their pre-scription medications. They were awarded $3,000 in prize money plus $2,500 to cover legal fees to help initiate the process for taking their app to market. The second place team was awarded $2,000.

It is clear that bringing personalized service to healthcare through connected and wide-ly accessible information is now within reach. Thanks to the efforts of healthcare lead-ers, technology companies, and talented software developers working collaboratively, the future of healthcare is extremely bright.

About the author: Brad Bostic is CEO of, inventor of the world's leading healthcare relationship management platform.

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