The first chief technology officer of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Todd Park, has been working hard to make community health data as useful as weather data. If that vision for open government at HHS matures, the innovation released in the private sector could meet or exceed the billions of dollars unlocked by GPS or NOAA data. To see the first steps in that direction, look no further than the healthcare apps that have already gone online, like the integration of community health data into Bing search results.
Park shared the next step in opening up health data last month out in California, when he announced HealthData.gov at the San Francisco Healthcamp. When interviewed yesterday at the mHealth Summit in Washington, Park shared more details about HealthData.gov, which he says will launch in December. He also shared a new goal for text4baby yesterday, which has now grown to be the biggest mobile health platform in the United States: 1 million moms by 2012.
HealthData.gov will be a new part of Data.gov with a health data catalog, including a roster of new public and private applications using the data, said Park. The site will launch with a new tool, a “Health Indicator Warehouse” with over 2000 metrics for United States, state and county health. HealthData.gov will also host an online community dedicated to health data, which should allow practitioners, technologists and entrepreneurs to learn from one another. The site is the next step in the framework HHS has created for government to act as a platform through the Community Health Data Initiative. The next question will be whether these applications lead to better outcomes for citizens and businesses that expand, bringing on new workers. Measuring that meaningful outcome will require more time.