I am lucky to work everyday alongside a brilliant tech developer named John. Like me, John has an advanced degree in health care. Like me, John moved to San Francisco to work in the health 2.0 innovation space. Like me, John has a lot of ideas about how to make good things happen in health care.

Here’s an example of the type of work we do:

A few weeks ago John started drumming up an idea for a Foursquare application. I think it’s an idea he’s had for a while, but the timing was right to pursue it. A veteran user of Foursquare, John introduced his concept to me and Tony – another brilliant tech developer – and together we three hashed out the conceptual design and strategy for what is now Fourhealth. It came to life thanks to a hackathon, which enabled John and Tony to build it. The idea is to help Foursquare users make healthier decisions about where they eat out. Ninety minutes after you check in to a restaurant, Fourhealth sends you a text message asking how you feel. This data is aggregated to the food venue, and along with objective user health data, provides ongoing feedback about how ‘healthy’ the decision is to eat there.

If you want to learn more, read here. If you want to try it, sign up here.

Not everybody uses Foursquare. But a lot of people do (~10 million users and 1 billion check-ins, to be precise). And effective health innovation should start with motivated users. The health 2.0 community cannot reach the unmotivated if we don’t know whether or not what we’ve built is useful. Of course there are other dissemination strategies (and unlimited ideas) worth pursuing, but until this community produces something that truly impacts health care, we are all just a bunch of talkers.

In the wake of San Francisco’s Health 2.0 conference, it is apparent that more than ever before we need to start walking more. The talent and energy is amazing. Let’s make it happen.

How? For starters:

  • crystalize ideas
  • know who your ideas are for
  • identify and secure the talent you need to give life to those ideas
  • incentivize that talent
  • provide needed resources (money, space, food, etc.) to optimize talent
  • connect with your target community (know them)
  • establish that what you made works
  • make it better

What other ideas do you have for making it happen?


  1. Nice. I'm working on an app that'll allow people to schedule (and remind themselves about) daily breaks of activity, and invite others to join in. It involves all of the steps you outline above, plus a commitment to gathering feedback along the way to tweak and improve the concept. Fran@femelmed

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