TeamFloriduh Engage!

This is a continuation of a series of posts documenting three strangers 5k miles apart attempting work for the first time together on the Health Data Consortium’s HealthDataPalooza Code-A-Palooza.

When CMS released the 2012 Medicare Provider Payment Data and the HDPalooza Code-a-thon was announced, I knew immediately it was something I would try. What I didn’t know is how I would go about soliciting people to be on my team, or what I could possibly do to legitimately compete with teams from major healthcare organizations. I didn’t have the resources (time, proprietary data, etc) or sufficient knowledge in healthcare, data science or programing to really lead any sort of initiative.

At this point, I have to come clean: I started this project with incredibly selfish intentions.

My domain experience lays smack middle of the spectrum when it comes to healthcare IT, policy, patient engagement, development, data science, statistical analysis, social media, etc. I’m a great 5th pick, but I’m no starter (sports analogy, check). I needed to source two people who could balance opposite ends.

I needed someone who had no prior knowledge of healthcare IT, and only insight as a patient, while also needing someone with deep enterprise domaine experience. I needed an individual with healthcare analytic skills, and another with deep data science and statistical knowledge. I needed someone who could balance networking, social media, branding and team identity, and craft a voice for our platform. And I needed someone who could lead platform development, and tie everything together. Mostly, I wanted to find a few people who would get as much of a kick out of the project as I knew I would.

I saw these traits, and more, in Mandi and Nick, and am so thrilled to have joined with them for this challenge. My history with both is as varied as the skills they bring to the table: I knew Nick back in highschool, but lost touch for 10 years until we recently reconnected through social media. Mandi I knew through the healthcare conference circuit, but had only connected a few times. Some 5,000 miles separated the three of us, connected only through laptops and a mutual goal.

The #TeamFloriduh moniker started as a joke, and a name placeholder, but stuck. I think it embodies our attitude and and direction rather well. Florida has a history of leading in obesity, diabetes, medicare fraud and more, and is also home to the fastest growing metropolitan area in the US: The Villages retirement community.

Like all states, Florida must contend with increasingly high rates of chronic illness that will require highly coordinated, preventive care to improve outcomes and lower costs: 11 percent of adults in the state have diabetes; 63 percent are either overweight or obese; 8 percent have had asthma. Furthermore, 17 percent of Florida residents are over the age of 65, and 30 percent over the age of 55, and as such Florida must be capable of meeting the increased healthcare needs of its residents. Meanwhile, Florida places in the top 10 regarding obesity and ranks 43rd when it comes to how well its healthcare system works for low income families and more than one in five residents are without insurance while some 41 percent of Floridians fall into the low income category (earning less than $47,000 a year for a family of four and less than $23,000 a year for an individual).

Additionally, Florida ranks among the highest cost of malpractice coverage. For example, the cost of malpractice coverage for a Miami based obstetrician-gynecologist is around $200,000. Moreover, the state is highly litigious. In 2009,there were 770 paid medical malpractice claims compared to a national average of 180.

Florida has had a rapidly growing diabetic and obese population since 2001, meanwhile, Medicare covers 3,334,266 Florida residents, but it’s unclear if the current distribution of healthcare services are meeting population needs. Healthcare systems and ACOs are adjusting to meet a growing population need, and our goal is it identify care deserts and provider voids to better address community needs.

All of these reasons, and plenty more make Florida full of interesting problems, and now it’s just a matter of narrowing the scope.

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