HL20: Fred Trotter—Balancing Skepticism, Crowdsourcing, and Big Ideas in Healthcare IT

Scott Mace, November 27, 2013

One of the latter inspirations got its initial crowdsourced funding of $45,000 in 2012. DocGraph, the result of a Freedom of Information Act request, was Trotter's first foray into crowdfunding liberated health data. It started with a set of data from CMS he liberated that contained 60 million referral relationships, nearly 80% of the referrals doctors make to each other in the United States.

He released the data set to attendees of Strata Rx, a healthcare data analytics conference, and reverted to a Creative Commons license. The goal: To create multiple doctor-rating algorithms that patients can use and doctors find fair. "The current credentialing system is abysmal," he says.

DocGraph didn't stop with referrals. Analysts could use Trotter's Freedom of Information Act–obtained data to see which hospitals have poor central line infection rates, and more. A few months later, without further FOIA prompts, CMS stepped up its own release of hospital quality and pricing data—and Trotter's early breakthrough probably shares credit for making that happen faster.

"We are not just building better data systems. We are building a new kind of mind, and that is precisely the place where you need to have ethics deeply embedded," Trotter said at his O'Reilly's Strata Rx 2012 talk.

For all his iconoclastic tilting at medicine's windmills—Hacking HIPAA failed to receive its needed crowdsource funding by its initial August 2013 deadline—it might surprise you to hear that healthcare IT is the Trotter family business, if you will. Trotter's grandfather owned a franchise for Medical Manager, which Trotter says was a very popular practice management system in the 1980s. His aunt and uncle also worked on Medical Manager as well.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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