Sitting at the intersection of health services research, policy, and practice, AcademyHealth is always looking for perspectives on issues of interest and relevance to our diverse community of members and stakeholders. So, from time to time (and especially when it’s really important and exciting stuff) we invite guest posts to our blog. We’re very happy to feature this update from Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine, regarding the Health Data Initiative and in particular the 3rd annual Health Datapalooza because it represents the new frontier of data access and use, and aligns with our efforts to help build a 21st Century evidence infrastructure to support a learning health care system. We encourage you to read, respond, and engage! By Harvey Fineberg and Todd Park We’re busy making final preparations for the Health Data Initiative Forum III: The Health Datapalooza national meet-up in Washington , D. C. on June 5-6, 2012 and we’re very grateful for the support of AcademyHealth for being an advocate of using data to catalyze change. The Forum will feature an incredible array of new applications and services, visionary keynote talks, networking, panel discussions and hands-on sessions that feature open innovation and explore new uses of health data to improve health and health care.  Whether you are an academic researcher, health care practitioner, policymaker, developer or investor – we’re confident you will find your place at the Palooza. You might be asking yourself, "So, what’s this event really all about?"  Often, when we attempt to navigate our health care system or even get involved in our personal or family’s health issues, the magnitude of the challenges seems daunting, complex, and insurmountable.  And, more times than not, it is difficult to make the right, informed choices as useful information is often hard to come by.  The Health Data Initiative that sponsors the Palooza promotes use of all kinds of data – public health data, health care administrative data, and personal health data to name a few – to create tools, technologies, and services to solve these problems. A national competition to select featured applications and services that use or generate health data is underway – innovators who decided to throw their hats into the ring to present at the Palooza are going through an "American Idol"-like process in which they will be evaluated by panels of independent consumer, provider, and community leader judges.  The "top 100" innovations will then be showcased at the event.  In addition to presentations about new data-driven innovations, we will feature sessions with data experts from HHS, EPA, USDA, and the VA, offering attendees many opportunities to learn more about available data sets and how they can be put to meaningful use.  We are thrilled to have a stellar array of speakers lined up for the Forum, including Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, who is leveraging data sources to innovate in remarkable ways; Atul Gawande, surgeon and journalist, who will lead a session on how accountable care organizations can harness the power of data to optimize care; physician and former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, who will speak about cutting-edge uses of data to help improve cardiac outcomes; and leading entrepreneurs from successful start-ups. If this is the first time you’re hearing about the Health Data Initiative, we encourage you to take a look at last year’s Palooza. And, you can follow us along on Twitter at #healthdata over the next few weeks to get a sneak peak at who’s coming to the Palooza.  We hope to see you there too.  If you are interested in attending, you can register here. We encourage you to participate in the Palooza and learn more about health data activities in your community at hdiforum.org. - - - - - - Dr. Fineberg is the President of the Institute of Medicine of the National Acadamies, and Mr. Park is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.  The Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support the Health Data Consortium, the official sponsor of the Health Datapalooza.