Institute of Medicine President Harvey Fineberg and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the Community Health Data Initiative on June 2 at an IOM Forum in Washington, D.C. The initiative represents the hard work of many people, especially HHS CTO Todd Park.
The idea is simple - make de-identified HHS data sets available free of charge and encourage developers/researchers/public health agencies to create innovative applications which share the data in novel ways on the web, your mobile phone, and via the iPhone app store. Clinicians, patients, and payers will all be informed and empowered by this new data liquidity.
What is the plan?
"We will be providing to the public, free of charge and without any intellectual property constraint, a Community Health Data Set harvested from across HHS – a wealth of easily accessible, standardized, structured, downloadable data on health care, health, and determinants of health performance at the national, state, regional, and county levels, as well as by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and income (where available). This data set will consist of hundreds (ultimately, thousands) of measures of health care quality, cost, access and public health (e.g., obesity rates, smoking rates, etc.), including data produced for the Community Health Status Indicators, County Health Rankings, and State of the USA programs."
For an example of the data sets available see the CDC's website.
For an overview of the launch including sample applications see this You Tube Video.
Per my earlier blog post, The Healthy Communities Institute has demonstrated the power of publicly available data to inform policymaking in cities and counties.
I look forward to the new products and positive impacts on quality, efficiency and safety catalyzed by the Community Health Data Initiative. Definitely worth watching over the next few months.
Hopefully some skeptical thinking on this subject will remain. Allowing individuals to, in a sense, run their own epidemiological studies may create more bottlenecks than precision. We have run through some of these in this state, the Grace Corporation toxic spill into wells, for example. It took much energy and proper investigation before a case could be made. Publishing lots of raw data without purposeful design may have the potential of creating case overload with no connection to true impact on the public.
As it stands today, health information via TV or other media if not fully explained tends to run amok. British immunization rates fell dramatically for Pertussis in the past based on misinterpreted data with serious consequences.
I vote for getting proper computing devices in provider offices first(now at 13%) before marching on. Paul Krugman's Nobel Prize explained that when lots of resources are spent on less than stellar projects, it is hard to go in reverse once a cadre of stakeholders are created.
This is great thing that encouraging developers, researchers to create innovative applications.
Great idea of caring about the health. This launched the community health data initiative. Thanks for sharing.
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