Talking Code-A-Thons with Kaiser Permanente’s Madhu Nutakki

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At the Code-A-Thon this week, we spent a few minutes with Madhu Nutakki, vice president for digital presence technologies at Kaiser Permanente.  Nutakki shared insight about the event and what KP’s new open API, Interchange, means in the short and long term.

CTH Blog:
So tell us about this Code-A-Thon event.  What is it about?

Madhu Nutakki:
Today at the Center for Total Health in beautiful Washington, D.C., we’re holding a Code-A-Thon built around Interchange – an API that Kaiser Permanente EVP and CIO Phil Fasano announced Monday at Health Datapalooza.  Interchange is going to start enabling innovation not just within KP, but also outside of our four walls.  We feel that’s the way to expand our footprint and applications for our consumers, and we can do it in a way that’s secure and private.  With it, our consumers can get much better user experiences built for them.

CTH Blog:
So who are the people participating in this Code-A-Thon, and what will they be doing over the 36 hour-long event?

We’re fortunate to host about 80 people here, both internal and external to KP.  We have about 10 physicians that are going to help us out, we have 20 people we refer to as catalysts, and we have 40 developers here.

The physicians are going to be focused on something called iThrive, which is about wellness and how we as consumers at Kaiser Permanente can better manage our total health.  The physicians will help us think through what those options are.

The catalysts serve as product managers, in a way.  They’ll enable us to build out these applications, think about what functionality we should have in them, and invigorate the teams.

The developers are the most important people in this room.  They’ll be working on this for 36 hours, and they’ll be building out these applications.

It’s a fun-filled event, and many of these people will work through the night.  We have Thrive breaks scheduled throughout the 36 hours to keep people feeling good.  We also have a midnight “Zombie’s Run,” for two miles, so anybody that’s interested can join us.  We’ll have a judging session at the end of the event where we’ll pick the top applications in eight different categories.

CTH Blog:
What do you find so valuable about Code-A-Thons?

Code-A-Thons are an extreme way to trigger innovation.  Typically, software development is a long, drawn-out process, taking months to a year.  A Code-A-Thon brings everybody who is interested in a concept together.  When you have people together, ideas flow much more freely.  And because they are co-located with the developers, any changes they want to make can happen that much more quickly.  So the product that comes out of a Code-A-Thon is that much more thought through and that much more reliable.

CTH Blog:
What do you see as the future for Interchange – beyond just apps benefitting Kaiser Permanente?

When we thought about Interchange, we thought about it very much as Kaiser Permanente’s contribution to the community.  API is a new concept for health care.  If you look at the retail market, Netflix and others have done it very well.  Our foray into this space will hopefully trigger innovation in general in health IT.

At the end of the day, Interchange has three purposes:  One is for consumers or KP members – hopefully they’ll get a better user experience by apps that are developed both internally and externally.  Second is for developers – developers now get access to our public data, and hopefully they can build interfaces from that.  And third is for Kaiser Permanente – we can expand our app portfolio that much more quickly.


Code-A-Thon Now Underway at the Center for Total Health

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For the next 36 hours straight, about 80 designers, programmers, and health care professionals will be working — pretty much non-stop — at the Center for Total Health. It’s a Code-A-Thon, and this time, participants will be focused on using Kaiser Permanente’s just-announced open API, Interchange. Currently, Interchange includes information on Kaiser Permanente’s public facility information and locations.

We snapped a few photos as the event got underway. More to come! And to follow the code-a-thon happenings on Twitter, check out hash tag #kpinterchange, or follow @kpdigitalhealth.





Next for #dchealth: Health Camp and The Walking Gallery

By | Blog & Bloggers, Care Delivery, Center for Total Health, Health Innovation, Health IT, Healthy Living, Mobility / Mobile Health | No Comments

D.C. Health Data and Innovation Week has had a promising start with the weekend’s Code-a-Thon. While the judging was close, the Healthy Plate team came in second (for a prize of $3,000), and the School Fit team took top honors—and $4,000—for its app that addressed the childhood obesity epidemic by building transparency.  School Fit’s app combined ranking school fitness levels with location information, really targeting the issue of obesity via civic, educational, social and family connections.  Check out photos from the two-day event here, and for a thoughtful perspective on the Code-a-Thon process, take a look at these two blog posts from Ted Eytan, MD.  Alex Howard Storified the weekend, too—you can see a social media snapshot of the event right here.

Monday, June 4, we have not one, but two D.C. Health Data and Innovation Week events at the Center for Total Health.  The first, HealthCamp DC, is bringing together people from all across the health sector:  Health system and policy leaders, nurses, doctors, technologists and more. asks participants to explore “Empowering Patient Engagement,” but the event is an un-conference, which means that the attendees, themselves, set the agenda for the day.  For more information, visit this website.

Monday’s second event at the Center for Total Health is The Walking Gallery—an art exhibit where the art is worn by attendees rather than hung on walls.  Patients, medical professionals, tech gurus, private sector executives, activists and artists will wear jackets and lab coats painted with the story of a patient or an element of medical advocacy by artist and patients’ rights advocate Regina Holliday or other artists.  In the words of Regina, the gallery, which now has 125 jackets, “advocates for the inclusion of the patient view and story in the halls of technology and medicine.”  The event is free and runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Center.  Interested in attending?  RSVP here.

Wish you could be here in person but can’t make it?  You can follow along via the #hcdc and #dchealth tweetstreams (or take a look at the live stream in the right margin of this page).  We will be covering all the action, and we welcome you to follow us at @kptotalhealth.


By | Blog & Bloggers, Center for Total Health, Experts, Health Innovation, Health IT, Mobility / Mobile Health, Obesity Prevention & Treatment | No Comments

Over the next week, we will be on site at all of the Health Data and Innovation Week events in Washington, D.C.  People from all over the United States are gathering in our nation’s capital to bring together ideas, provoke conversations, and plan steps for advancing health and care through innovation.  This is the second year for the week-long celebration, and several of the activities are once again taking place right at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health.

The action kicks off Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, with a Health 2.0 Code-a-Thon—a coding competition designed around using big data to build exciting new applications and tools to improve health care.  This year’s focus is Preventing Obesity.  Professional technologists, researchers and students are expected to participate in a fun two days of, according to the press materials, “rapid prototyping and creative health hacking.”  Cash offers additional motivation, with a total of $10,000 in prize money to be awarded.

After the Code-a-Thon, the week’s activities also include and the Walking Gallery on June 4;  Health DataPalooza June 5-6; and on June 7, a mHealth event with NASA on health applications benefiting life in space and on earth (how cool is that?!).  Some of these events are open to the public.  A calendar for the week’s activities can be found here. For more information, visit

Follow the conversation all week long on Twitter at hashtag #dchealth.  You can even watch the live tweet stream in the right margin of this page for real-time updates (including our own; follow us @kptotalhealth).  And check back here for more previews of what’s to come in D.C. this week.