Jon Bon Jovi

Some of the “Rock Stars” of Health Innovation at the “Health Datapalooza”, more formally known as the Health Data Initiative Forum III, have been in town this week for the June 5-6 event at the Washington, DC, Convention Center.

Special Guest Jon Bon Jovi, world-famous musician, appeared in connection with the Project REACH Mobile App Challenge. And a number of U.S. Government’s leading proponents of innovation were on the billing, not all of whom would have thought of themselves as rock stars before this event, including Todd Park, U.S. chief technology officer; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs; as well as Mitch Kapor, Partner, Kapor Capitol and Bill Frist, physician and former U.S. Senate majority leader.

Gould in particular was there to talk about Project REACH – a Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless (REACH). Simply put, the goal of Project REACH is to provide a free, broadly accessible app that produces real or near real-time information on where someone can find a bed, a place to eat, or seek medical services.

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This is the third in a series of profiles of innovative leaders in government based on interviews for the book “Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government” by Paul R. Lawrence and Mark A. Abramson. The book highlights the management lessons of 24 political executives during their first two years in the Obama administration.

Organizations, both in the public and private sector, have come a long way since the employee suggestion box of the 20th century. For much of the last century, the suggestion box was the major vehicle for soliciting input from within organizations. Other than receiving mail and perhaps conducting focus groups, organizations were also limited in ways that they received information and ideas from outside their organization. Keep reading →