According to Liang, as of June 2014 they were “the only place besides Healthcare.gov where this is possible. We have signed an agreement with CMS as a web based entity to do this. We are directly integrated with the federal data hub, so going through us is identical to going through Healthcare.gov.”
NYC Hacks and Hackers co-organizer Chrys Wu was kind enough to ask my questions, posed over Twitter. Here were the answers I pulled out from the video above:
How much data has been released? Park: “A ton.” He pointed to HealthData.gov as a scorecard and said that HHS isn’t just releasing brand new data. They’re “also making existing data truly accessible or usable,” he said. They’re taking “stuff that’s in a book or website and turning it into machine readable data or an API.”
What formats? Park: Lots and lots of different formats. “Some people put spreadsheets online, other people actually create open APIs and open services,” he said. “We’re trying to migrate people as much towards open API as possible.”
Impact to date? “The best quantification that I can articulate is the Health data-palooza,” he said. “50 companies and nonprofits updated and deployed new versions of their platforms and services. The data already helping millions of Americans in all kinds of ways.”
Park emphasized that it’s still quite early for the project, at only 18 months into this. He also emphasized that the work isn’t just about data: it’s about how and where it’s used. “Data by itself isn’t useful. You don’t go and download data and slather data on yourself and get healed,” he said. “Data is useful when it’s integrated with other stuff that does useful jobs for doctors, patients and consumers.”
Todd Park, chief technology officer of the Department of Heath and Human Services, has been working to unlock innovation through open health data for over a year now. On many levels, the effort is the best story in federal open data. In the video below, he talks with my publisher, Tim O’Reilly, about collaboration and innovation in the healthcare system.
Check out this article about HealthData.gov including footage of Park talking about the “health data eco-system” at the code-a-thon (and actually, the video also features local health hacker Alan Viars sitting there at the right).
Here are 3 blog posts about last year’s event, including mine:
Last October, Todd Park, the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) announced HealthData.gov at the HealthCamp in San Francisco. Today, Health.Data.gov went live. When the domain name propagates properly through the Internet, HealthData.gov will send online users directly to the new community at Data.gov.
Park has been working to make community health information as useful as weather data through the release of open health data from HSS. Today, the nation now can see more about what the tech community has come up since this spring, when the question of whether “there’s a healthcare app for that” was answered the first time. “Social value and economic value can go hand in hand,” he told a health IT summit in San Francisco.
Below, Park speaks more about what open health data could mean at last weekend’s health 2.0 code-a-thon in Washington, DC.
What is the federal chief technology officer up to out in Silicon Valley? From afar, however, it’s looks like federal CTO Aneesh Chopra is stirring up awareness about open government and entrepreneurship in the venture capital community in California. He’s also traveling with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) CTO Todd Park to add his compatriot’s considerable enthusiasm for innovation in healthcare information technology (HIT). Chopra’s slides follow:
During the event, I picked up some tweets coming out of a “D.C.-to-Silicon Valley” event and curated them using the Storify tool. It proved to be a bit unstable – apps in beta are fun! – but you’ll find a “living version” of the story embedded in the post below.
Have you met Todd Park? He’s the first CTO of Health and Human Services Department of the United States. Earlier this week, he announced the upcoming launch of HealthData.gov, a new website that will publish open government health data. If you’re unfamiliar with Park, I interviewed him at this year’s Gov 2.0 Expo:
Park and I talked about his open government work at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he’s been trying to make community health information as useful as weather data. We also spoke about the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge, a series of code-a-thons and team competitions to build apps based upon community health data. “Games are a non-trivial information dissemination approach” that can drive actionable behavior, said Park at HealthCamp, referring to many of the entries that use game mechanics to socialize the data. The developer challenge culminated this week during the fourth annual Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.
The nation now can see more about what the tech community has come up since this spring, when the question of whether there’s a healthcare app for that was answered the first time. “Social value and economic value can go hand in hand,” he said to a health IT summit in San Francisco. Below, Park talks about the Veterans Administration’s new “Blue Button,” which provides access to downloadable personal health data.
Veterans who log onto My HealtheVet at http://www.myhealth.va.gov and click the Blue Button can save or print information from their own health records. Using a similar Blue Button, Medicare beneficiaries who are registered users of http://www.mymedicare.gov can log onto a secure site where they can save or print their Medicare claims and self-entered personal information. Data from of each site can be used to create portable medical histories that will facilitate dialog with Veterans’ and beneficiaries’ health care providers, caregivers, and other trusted individuals or entities.
This new option will help Veterans and Medicare beneficiaries save their information on individual computers and portable storage devices or print that information in hard copy. Having ready access to personal health information from Medicare claims can help beneficiaries understand their medical history and partner more effectively with providers. With the advent of the Blue Button feature, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to view their claims and self-entered information—and be able to export that data onto their own computer. The information is downloaded as an “ASCII text file,” the easiest and simplest electronic text format. This file is also easy to read by the individual; it looks like an organized report.
More than 60,000 people have already downloaded their PHRs. As those technically savvy writers emphasize, however, this will create thousands of opportunities to have that sensitive data leak. They stressed the importance of using encryption and password protection to protect the records. For those watching the development of health IT, the future that the 3 CTOs hint about near the end of the post will be of particular interest:
Soon, Blue Button users may be able to augment the downloaded information that is housed on their computers—or that they transferred to a commercial personal health record or other health application—through automated connections to, and downloads from, major pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS; lab systems such as Quest and LabCorp; and an increasing number of inpatient and outpatient electronic medical records systems.
Can social media, open government and an API lead to a better pill identification system? What about a collaborative effort between Big Pharma and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that could result in pictures of medications on labels for the first time?
Every year, poison control centers get more than one million calls for pill identification. Each one of those calls costs nearly $50. Social software is helping biomedical researchers collaborate on better ways of identifying drugs. “Pillbox is a digital platform for communities to solve challenges related to pharmaceutical identification and reference,” says David Hale, the program manager. The National Library of Medicine’s mission is to gather, curate and distribute the world’s biomedical information, said Hale.
Pillbox is an open government initiative from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration that could transform how pharmaceuticals are labeled in the future. The interactive web application currently allows visitors to rapidly identify unknown solid medications, like tablets or capsules, based upon their shape, color and other markings. Pillbox remains a research and development project, so users should not be making clinical decisions just yet. Right now there are over 1,000 images of prescription drugs in the system, with many more to come in the next few months.
In the video below, Hale demonstrates the platform: