Imagine a scenario where a patient, from her mobile phone, can find the best possible health care provider and securely book an appointment; where she and her doctor have the latest treatment information at their fingertips; and where this information helps improve or even save her life.

This scenario, and many others like it, is now being brought to life by entrepreneurs and innovators leveraging the power of data to improve health and health care.  Last week, we had the amazing experience of joining nearly 1,600 rock-star innovators who packed into the Health Data Consortium’s third annual Health Datapalooza here in Washington.

Using health-related data that are being made accessible in computer-readable form from federal and state agencies, and other sources, entrepreneurs are creating new applications and services that help: consumers find the best health care provider for their families; doctors deliver the best possible care; mayors make better-informed policy decisions; and much more.

Hundreds of companies and nonprofits battled it out in a national competition leading to the “top 100” being featured at the event.  For example mHealthCoach is a mobile application that helps patients find the right health care providers, communicate effectively with them, and manage their own health.  Archimedes gives physicians the ability to create optimized care regimens for patients based on the most up to date research and information available.

The Datapalooza also saw the launch of a significantly upgraded new version of HealthData.gov, our one-stop resource for government data; new government data resources being made available to developers such as insurance products and pricing information; nearly a dozen major new challenge competitions sponsored by a wide array of organizations; commitments by five regional coalitions to start holding local Health Datapaloozas; and much more.

In the last two years, we’ve gone from 45 people in a room, brainstorming about a possible Health Data Initiative that would “liberate” government data to spur entrepreneurship, to an overflow crowd of nearly 1,600.  We’ve gone from 17 companies and nonprofits submitting applications and services in 2010 to over 240 submitting for the Datapalooza in 2012.  And most importantly, we’ve begun to see these innovations make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans across the country.

These entrepreneurs and innovators embody the spirit of a country that continuously innovates its way to an ever brighter future, and can take health data and turn them into amazing new products and services that are already helping millions of Americans, contributing to economic growth, and creating jobs.  We are deeply committed to continuing to supply American entrepreneurs and innovators with an ever-improving pipeline of open data, and we can’t wait to see what they’re going to build next!

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