What I did during my summer vacation: HealthCamp

HealthCampMD tag cloud

HealthCampMd tag cloud

As a kid, during summer my friends and I would head off to swim camp, horse camp, art camp and various other camps. As an adult, my friends and I head off to HealthCamp.

HealthCamps are part of the BarCamp phenomenon and take place all over the world. They are ‘user-generated’ with the focus on participation and interaction. The agenda is decided by participants at the start of the day and can change as the whims and the attendees change.

HealthCamps are often described as ‘unconferences’ and are based on the philosophy of open space technology. Typical camp rules, as outlined by our camp counselor Mark Scrimshire during HealthCampMD (Maryland), include:

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over.

As with the summer camps of our youth, the philosophy of HealthCamps is that there are no spectators, only participants.

Unlike regular camp, when it comes to HealthCamp you don’t have to write your name in your clothes, you don’t have to worry about ticks, and there’s no KP duty. And although there weren’t s’mores, we had cake in celebration of the one year anniversary of HealthCampMD.

During my summer vacation at HealthCampMD a small sample of what I learned through engaging with other happy campers includes:

  • When it comes to health 2.0, the patient (or participant) is the common denominator and is at the center.
  • In designing applications for mobile technology, one needs to appreciate the arc of movement the thumb joint must make in order to perform the desired task.
  • There really is no “go to” source on the web for nutrition information.
  • There are numerous metrics one can use to quantify social engagement. This includes Twitter.
  • In addition to the ICD, there is also the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) from the World Health Organization which shifts the focus from cause to impact.
  • To stay relevant, healthcare must embrace openness.
  • Some of the most important health real estate is on (and in) pill bottles. One label has to work for everyone (docs, pharmacists, patients, caregivers, etc). What information must be on the outside, and what information can go inside?
  • Conversations in health providers’ offices are changing. Patients used to bring in information from online health sites. Now they also bring in information from other online patients.

Questions I was left pondering after attending HealthCampMD:

  • Will we need to adjust our definition of health literacy?
  • How do we measure ROI in the health2.0 space?
  • How can consumer genomics be made actionable?

HealthCampMD made me realize the future of online health is all about P’s:

  • Portable
  • Partnerships
  • Participatory
  • Personalized

As with all great camp experiences, it all comes down the people.  I hung out with wonderful old friends from past HealthCamps and made lots of cool new friends. And, similar to the camps of my youth where we went by nicknames (Frogger, River Spirit) at HealthCamp we often went by our Twitter names.

Here’s a few of the happy campers/thought leaders who attended HealthCampMD. I’m looking forward to seeing these old friends, and making new friends, at the next HealthCamp.