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Tech Challenge Aims to Quash Readmissions

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 17, 2012

In studies PAMF conducted, one quote from a senior stood out: "Your world dies before you do." Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the quick decline of surviving spouses. Tang's developer challenge aims to do something about it.

The project goes by the name linkAges and Tang kicked it off April 14 with a hackathon and a rousing speech by newly-appointed U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President (and former HHS CTO) Todd Park, among others. The "big, hairy audacious goal" is to create a hospital-sponsored social safety net for seniors who need rides or other support and in return can offer their own skills and talents, such as gardening, in a barter system that ends up costing the hospital system practically nothing.

The primary enabling technology is the mobile phone, now ubiquitous, with apps powered by vast amounts of free U.S. government data, published in machine-readable form, and ready to present to seniors everything from the locations of farmer's markets to directories of healthcare facilities.

In the process, seniors become engaged, energized, develop new bonds, and are motivated to seek out and ask for help.

It's the next step beyond meaningful use. Call it Meaningful Life. "What if we created activities of meaningful life and supported that instead?" Tang asks.

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