HHS Flagship Initiatives
We are proud of the remarkable work that is being done across HHS to advance Open Government and, in doing so, our mission. We have designated five initiatives in particular as “Flagship Initiatives” that we believe embody an Open HHS:
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Dashboard
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Transparency Initiative
- FOIA Excellence
- The Community Health Data Initiative
A cornerstone of Open Government at HHS is the ability to make high-value data available to the public and encourage innovative uses of it to advance the public good. As noted earlier in this Plan, since the Plan’s initial publication, HHS has been rapidly advancing a major new Open Government flagship project called the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). The Initiative embodies the philosophy of “open data” and data sharing that is at the heart of our Open Government Plan. The core principle is that the government can help trigger enormous public good by implementing the idea of “government as platform,” supplying ever greater amounts of high quality, free government data to the public and actively marketing the availability of this data – which can then be turned into useful insights, applications, products, and services by a growing “ecosystem” of private and public sector innovators from across the country, working with engaged consumers, providers, civic leaders, employers, researchers, and others
The Community 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 and growth of an “ecosystem” 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 decisionmakers to improve performance, and (3) help facilitate and inform action to improve performance. It’s an approach inspired in part by the weather – more specifically, the public-private ecosystem that undergirds the supply and use of weather data. Most weather data in the United States is supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – which puts out a rich supply of high quality weather data that is free and easily accessible by the public. Innovators outside NOAA then pick up this data and turn it into useful services that can benefit the public – weather websites, news programs, mobile applications, etc. Our intent is to catalyze the emergence of a community health data ecosystem that’s similar to this weather data ecosystem, and position HHS as the “NOAA of community health.”
The approach we're taking has two parts. First, we will be providing to the public, free of charge and without any intellectual property constraint, Community Health Data 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, 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. It 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. While the initial Community Health Data Set is a set of data files downloadable from a webpage (deployed in March), we will be deploying a new HHS Health Indicators Warehouse and web portal to deliver data with maximum efficiency (including exposing the data via a web service) by the end of 2010. The HHS Health Indicators Warehouse and portal are currently under development at the National Center for Health Statistics, and will updated on an ongoing basis after its launch in December.
Second, we are proactively encouraging a growing array of innovators from the worlds of technology, business, academia, public health, and health care to engage with the data and turn it into applications that create significant and growing public benefit. 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
Since the debut of our initial Open Government Plan, the public-private Community Health Data Initiative collaboration has already attracted 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. We are proactively marketing HHS data on community health care, health, and health determinant indicators to these kinds of innovators. We are evangelizing energetically on behalf of the Initiative at conferences and other public forums and on the web, seeking to get many organizations and individuals outside HHS interested in participating in the Initiative’s ecosystem. We are working closely with organizations such as the Institute of Medicine and Health 2.0 to hammer out how we can all facilitate the ecosystem’s growth and development
The first milestone for the success of this approach was heralded at the Community Health Data Forum hosted by HHS and the Institute of Medicine on June 2. See http://www.hhs.gov/open/datasets/initiative_launch.html to view a webcast of the Forum’s plenary session, hosted by Secretary Sebelius, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, and Institute of Medicine President Harvey Fineberg. At this event, attended by 400 people in person and 300 people online, innovators demonstrated more than a dozen amazing applications that had been built or significantly improved using HHS data in less than 90 days, in response to an initial challenge issued by HHS in March. Most of these applications are now publicly available for use on the web.
As announced at the June 2 Forum, HHS is also collaborating with Health 2.0, Sunlight Foundation, and others to launch a third application development challenge, the Health 2.0 2010 Developer Challenge (see www.health2challenge.org for more information), with resulting applications to be showcased at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco in October
We are setting the goal of at least 100 organizations meaningfully involved in the Community Health Data Initiative by June 2011 – defined as supplying data to the Initiative ecosystem or having built applications as part of the ecosystem
Through the release of our data and the work above, we aim 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 Community 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. The Initiative has pioneered new approaches with respect to sharing data and working with innovators outside the government. The development of a process to open up data sets within HHS, encouraging other organizations to make data available, encouraging tool development by private sector innovators, and fostering communications with new media are all methods of practice that can be used across HHS and other agencies. To help promote the use of these methods, a “playbook” of policy actions and methods which are making CHDI successful will be developed and made widely available by October 2010.
Design Framework for HHS’s Community Health Data Initiative