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June 03, 2010

Public Private Partnership on Health Data: Innovation in Action


The chief technology officer of Health and Human Services (HHS), Todd Park has been working closely with other government officials and the technology community to put community healthcare data into role that will act as a catalyst for innovation.  His efforts began through the Community Health Data Initiative, a major new public-private effort that aims to help Americans understand health and health care performance in their communities -- and to help spark and facilitate action to improve performance. 

The initiative is designed to catalyze the advent of a network of community health data suppliers (starting with HHS) and “data appliers” who utilize that data to create applications that (1) raise awareness of community health performance, (2) increase pressure on decision makers to improve performance, and (3) help facilitate and inform action to improve performance. Park was also recently interviewed about the initiative.

The program began by providing to the public a free Community Health Data Set, with a wealth of downloadable data on health care, health, and determinants of health. Then, working with that data, a growing array of technology companies, researchers, health advocates, employers, media, consumer advocates, marketers, providers, etc., sought to identify the uses of this data that would do the most to raise awareness of health performance, help motivate civic leaders and citizens to improve performance, and help improvers do the improving. 

In addition to the new initiative, Park joined HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House CTO Aneesh Chopra for a Community Health Data Forum at the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Science. The purpose of the forum was to further ongoing efforts of innovators using community-level health data to empower individuals and communities to make informed choices about their health.

Prior to yesterday’s forum, the IOM and HHS hosted a small gathering in March of various stakeholders to catalyze the formation of the new Community Health Data Initiative, according to O’RileyRadar.

Consequently, Park and others saw amazing technology applications from Google, the National Association of Counties (NACO), GE, Bing, and Healthways. For example, Google's Fusion Tables, essentially an online database powered by Google, allowed users to examine data, combine it and share, giving users the ability to search through community health data, mash it up with maps and see which regions are, for instance, the "best places to have chest pain." Another use of the tables and dataset was for a Hospital Finder.

Bing presented a new app called Bing HealthMaps, available to use now, which allows users to search using geolocated data and add overlays for the incidence of health conditions, like Diabetes or obesity. Bing will also integrate Oodle classifieds with health data, enabling searches to load rentals, school ratings and layer on different conditions.

Another app presented was the Network of Care for Healthy Communities, a web-based portal that targets individuals and policy makers, and includes a service directory, library, links and legislative information.

GE launched in May of 2009, focusing on showing data to drive change such as the cost of getting sick. They also have an interactive health visualizer, and will be adding new apps that present more health data in aggregate, including community health rankings.

With companies lining up to help bring health information to patients and physicians, collaboration with industry will be essential.  As HHS and Park have already done, making data available to companies, and launching an interim CHDI website, ( under the "Connect with data" button), will speed up new discoveries. Future improvements will be a new HHS Health Indicators Warehouse, launching in December 2010 that will have Medicare community-level indicators.

In addition to yesterday’s meeting, the Community Health Data Forum will kick off the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge (, which will extend through this fall. The Challenge will host a series of code-a-thons and team competitions to build apps based upon CHDI data over the next four months. Regional events will culminate in a final challenge during the fourth annual Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

According to Mazi Abdolrasulnia, PhD of CE Outcomes LLC “access to this information will transforms needs assessment information and gives CME providers and supporters the information needed to target gaps in health delivery”.

With the potential for electronic health records, enhanced medical imaging, and numerous other data and quality measures, the technology industry will be best suited for finding the most efficient and effective ways to keep track of health care data. Demonstrating the important role industry plays in providing health data and information to agencies such as HHS, Park and the Community Health Data Initiative have acknowledged the important partnership industry plays in bringing better technology and innovation to the health care system.

Watch Launch Event  6-02-10


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