Enhanced Data Quality and Usability
Building on the success of efforts to further mobilize the data and information through the Health Data Initiative, new avenues of focused activity on data and information services across HHS will be integrated as a flagship initiative for 2012-2014. The amalgam of programs, strategies, and policies at the heart of many components of HHS are yielding new opportunities for Open Government through better understanding of data and information services derived from them. While our efforts will continue to produce more data and data service technical capabilities, a major thrust of our Open Government plan will be to enhance the quality and usability of the data we publish. The ability to integrate, analyze, and interpret data into useful information services is growing in demand across government and the private sector.
The Health Data Initiative will be enhanced in its service and capabilities for the public through new technology platforms in 2012 that bring new features to enhance access to data and greater opportunity for networking among data users and data providers. The Health Indicators Warehouse will be revised in a new 2.0 version in late 2012 to provide even greater capabilities for machine readable formats enabling machine-to-machine data linkages. These capabilities will further improve the dissemination of information through a wide array of formats. The broader use of application programming interfaces, creation of digital libraries of content, enhancement of metadata directories of our data resources in Healthdata.gov, and use of new tagging methodologies of data elements will increase the efficiency of data transfer, improve the liquidity of data, and further accelerate the use of web services to transfer information to its users. New additions to the collection of linked datasets will provide new insights of information into complex interactions of health and health care services. The redesign of our HHS data catalogue, Healthdata.gov Version 2, will provide many new features for developers, researchers, policy analysts to visualize data in new ways, and have more interactive capabilities to use the data to understand critical problems in health care. This new platform will be open source and opportunities for technology developers to collaborate and participate in the Health Data Initiative by creating modules and applications to further improve the resource will be announced in 2012.
A key area of new datasets and tools in the Health Data Initiative pertains to access of administrative data from CMS. To further support the public’s needs, CMS will unveil its Data and Information Product Strategy in mid-2012 that will bring access to new data resources for a wide array of innovative uses. For the first time a designated administrative approach will be in place to offer data users a more complete picture of health care expenditures, use of services, and costs of care at community and provider level. The establishment of data and information services as a core element of organizational business services demonstrates the importance of data in supporting the transformation of health care delivery into more efficient and higher quality experiences.
The pace of data growth, the complexity of the data sources, and immense dimension of data holdings across HHS are three vectors that contribute to new considerations we are taking with this flagship activity. Generally addressed as “big data,” HHS is taking new steps to better manage, store, retrieve, and collect data resources through several initiatives. As part of the National Big Data Initiative, NIH is participating in support of the National Big Data Core Technology Solicitation for research and development activities across the federal government. An array of research program announcements will inspire research, development and application of tools for data acquisition, archiving, retrieval, visualization, integration and management, platform-independent transitional tools for data exchange and for promoting interoperability, and many other capabilities. The National Center for Biomedical Computing consortium supports computing needs from basic research in computational science to providing tools and resources that biomedical and bio-behavioral researchers can use at a variety of levels. NIH also established a Data and Informatics Working Group that is gathering input from a wide array of experts and stakeholders to help address the rapid growth of datasets. Further work is being done on the uses of cloud computing capabilities in research by fostering collaborations with cloud services that will enable researchers to access data more quickly.
While difficult to measure in specific increments, each of these efforts addressing data and information services is expected to improve the speed of knowledge transformation to end users, improve the productivity of HHS programs, and enhance the understanding of data leading to more effective programs administered by HHS. HHS will rely upon strong partnerships with the private sector to promote entrepreneurship and innovations that help in creating value through information services.