In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Fred Trotter.
This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
"I always did everything I could do to get my work out there in front of people who I thought were smarter than I was."
At an impromptu lunchtime gathering in Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum, Fred Trotter is drawing lines and boxes on a whiteboard. From around the room, other programmers, healthcare IT experts, and a privacy expert or two toss in suggestions. Trotter excitedly adds to the drawing, challenging some suggestions as he goes, accepting others, and even raising a skeptical eyebrow at his own work.
It's all in a day's work—and play—for the author of Hacking Healthcare, who this May day was helping lay the groundwork for a crowdfunding project known as Hacking HIPAA, which tries to circumvent ponderous standards bodies, sluggish large healthcare giants, and secretive startups to bring HIPAA into the 21st century by clever coding and collaboration.
Trotter will be the first to tell you this work sure beats trying to change things by legislation. If anyone can pull it off through the wisdom of crowds, it's Fred.
"More and more I have been doing things where somebody decides to pay my bills for a little while, and I go and do what I think is the most interesting thing ever," Trotter says.