U.S. wants ideas on collecting commuter health data

The U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has issued the first of its Health Innovations in Commuting Challenge series dedicated to encouraging innovations that support improving the health of American commuters.

ONC is seeking the best ideas for collecting data on the health of commuters. Specifically, ONC wants ideas on:

  • How health data may be appropriately collected from commuters in a safe and secure manner during the overall commute or during key milestones or events of the commute, both routine and unique.
  • How health data may be transmitted in a secure and standardized manner.
  • How health data may be analyzed, either at an individual or population level, to the commuter or appropriate stakeholders, such as care professionals, public health agencies, emergency services, and researchers.

The website announcing the challenge notes “commuting has been shown to correlate with a variety of health factors, as long commutes are associated with health problems such as high cholesterol, recurring neck and back pain, and higher stress levels.”

I believe commuting combined with sedentary information and knowledge work has far broader and more deleterious effects on working age adults.  Commuting to an office and putting in long hours there makes for a lifestyle that leaves little time and energy for exercise, increasing the risk for preventable chronic diseases.  Most importantly, it’s no longer necessary on a five day a week basis.  With the shift toward an information anywhere, anytime society with the adoption of the Internet and personal communications devices, it’s getting more difficult to justify the adverse health and cost impacts of daily commuting.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email fpilot@pilothealthstrategies.com or call 530-295-1473. 

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Frederick Pilot


  1. Cali Ressler (@caliressler)

    Fred is absolutely right. It’s just wrong, in this day and age, to try to justify why commuting on a daily basis is necessary. Intuitively, we all know that commuting plus the sedentary nature of the work many people do is dangerous from a health perspective. It doesn’t take study after study to figure that out. Sitting + sitting = bad news. Now it’s time for action. Time for organizations to start shifting their beliefs from “I must see my employees to know they are doing good work” to “We must set clear, measurable goals and trust our employees to deliver – whenever and wherever makes sense.”

  2. Frederick Pilot

    Broad based adoption of Cali’s and her partner Jody Thompson’s “Results Only Work Environment” (ROWE) could easily be the best and most cost effective way to “bend the cost curve” of medical utilization. If people are paid to literally park their butts in cubicle chairs 8 hours a day and then are in the same position for often lengthy, stressful commutes to and from that cubicle, we are creating a toxic environment that can only have adverse health impacts. ROWE is the best and least costly health care reform there is. Best of all, it can be implemented as soon as tomorrow by any and all organizations without an act of Congress or Supreme Court decision.

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