About the Health Data Initiative
The Health Data Initiative is 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 fundamental approach being taken by the initiative is 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.
The approach we’re taking has two parts.
First, we provide to the public, free of charge and without any intellectual property constraint, a Health Data Sets 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 consists 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.
- Visit HealthData.gov.
The final product will include a major contribution of new national, state, regional, and potentially county-level Medicare prevalence of disease, quality, cost, and utilization data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), never previously published, as well as data for measures tracked by Healthy People 2020. And it will include information on evidence-based programs and policies that have successfully improved community performance across many of these measures.
Second, working with a growing array of technology companies, researchers, health advocates, employers, media, consumer advocates, marketers, providers, etc., we are seeking 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. Potential examples include:
- Interactive health maps on the web that allow citizens to understand health performance in their area vs. others with tremendous ease and clarity
- “Dashboards” that enable mayors and other civic leaders to track and publicize local health performance and issues
- Social networking applications that allow health improvement leaders to connect with each other, compare performance, share best practices, and challenge each other
- Competitions regarding how communities can innovate to improve health performance
- Viral online games that help educate people about community health
- Utilization of community health data to help improve the usefulness of results delivered by web search engines when people do health-related searches and further raise awareness of community health performance
- Integration of community health-related data into new venues, such as real estate websites, which could be highly effective disseminators of such information
Through this dialogue, the public-private Health Data Initiative team is recruiting companies, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, and innovators of all stripes to utilize the data HHS is providing and develop applications for the public along the lines of the above – and also provide feedback on what data going forward would be most useful for HHS to supply.
The objective is not only to deploy health data, but also to trigger the creation and use of an ever-growing array of new applications that increase awareness of community health performance and spark action to improve performance – with the ultimate metric of success being improvement in the very health measures that are being surfaced via the data set.
In sum, the Health Data Initiative is working to leverage the power of transparency, participation, and collaboration to improve community health. It’s not an initiative owned by any one organization. It’s an American initiative, embodying the spirit of commonwealth and which will enable us to do things that can only be done when we all work together.
And it’s an initiative for which we also plan to share our core methodologies and program materials with other agencies across the government who have already begun to express interest in replicating this approach in other sectors.