Health 2.0: Todd Park talks about open data and healthcare at NYC Hacks and Hackers [VIDEO]

If you’re a regular reader of Govfresh or the O’Reilly Radar, you know how the chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Todd Park ,is focused on unleashing the power of open data to improve health. If you aren’t familiar with this story, go read Simon Owen’s excellent feature article that explores his work on revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Part of unlocking innovation through open health data has been a relentless promotion and evangelization of the data that HHS has to venture capitalists, the healthcare industry and developers. It was in that context that Park visited New York’s Hacks and Hackers meetup today. The video of the meeting is embedded below, including a lengthy question and answer period at the end.

health20nyc on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

NYC Hacks and Hackers co-organizer Chrys Wu was kind enough to ask my questions, posed over Twitter. Here were the answers I pulled out from the video above:

How much data has been released? Park: “A ton.” He pointed to HealthData.gov as a scorecard and said that HHS isn’t just releasing brand new data. They’re “also making existing data truly accessible or usable,” he said. They’re taking “stuff that’s in a book or website and turning it into machine readable data or an API.”

What formats? Park: Lots and lots of different formats. “Some people put spreadsheets online, other people actually create open APIs and open services,” he said. “We’re trying to migrate people as much towards open API as possible.”

Impact to date? “The best quantification that I can articulate is the Health data-palooza,” he said. “50 companies and nonprofits updated and deployed new versions of their platforms and services. The data already helping millions of Americans in all kinds of ways.”

Park emphasized that it’s still quite early for the project, at only 18 months into this. He also emphasized that the work isn’t just about data: it’s about how and where it’s used. “Data by itself isn’t useful. You don’t go and download data and slather data on yourself and get healed,” he said. “Data is useful when it’s integrated with other stuff that does useful jobs for doctors, patients and consumers.”

HHS launches Health.Data.gov

Last October, Todd Park, the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) announced HealthData.gov at the HealthCamp in San Francisco. Today, Health.Data.gov went live. When the domain name propagates properly through the Internet, HealthData.gov will send online users directly to the new community at Data.gov.

Park blogged about HealthData.gov and the open health data initiative on Data.gov this morning.

“HealthData.gov is a one-stop resource for the growing ecosystem of innovators who are turning data into new applications, services, and insights that can help improve health,” he wrote.

The new open health data site includes community features and links to more than a thousand indicators at HealthIndicators.gov and a health apps showcase.

New apps like iTriage have the potential to turn open health data to better decisions and build new businesses. Speaking at the State Department’s open source conference last week, Park said that tens of thousands of citizens have now used the health data in iTriage to find community health centers.

Park has been working to make community health information as useful as weather data through the release of open health data from HSS. Today, the nation now can see more about what the tech community has come up since this spring, when the question of whether “there’s a healthcare app for that” was answered the first time. “Social value and economic value can go hand in hand,” he told a health IT summit in San Francisco.

Below, Park speaks more about what open health data could mean at last weekend’s health 2.0 code-a-thon in Washington, DC.

Here come the healthcare apps.