'Open Data' Business Models & Strategies in Healthcare

The U.S., U.K., Kenya, India, France, G8 Nations…  Everyone seems to be catching 'Open Data' Fever!  Companies across the U.S. and around the world are all starting to figure out business models and strategies that will allow them to cash in on the 'open data' movement.

A few years ago, RedMonk co-founder and analyst Stephen O'Grady presented his idea that we are now entering the fourth generation of information technology (IT) companies.  Turns out he was right on target. According to O'Grady, the four generations to date include:

• First Generation  - "The money is in the hardware, not the software"
• Second Generation  - "Actually, the money is in the software"
• Third Generation  - "The money is not in the software, but it is differentiating"
• Fourth Generation  - "Software is not even differentiating, the value is the data"

Sure enough, today it's all about the data – 'Big Data' and 'Open Data' are all the rage.  The focus of this article is on the topic of 'Open Data' business models and strategies companies should consider  in order to succeed and become highly profitable in this competitive arena.

On May 9, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Executive Order, "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information", requiring agencies to comply with Open Data Policy & Guidelines.

'Open Data' Business Models & Strategies

A quick Google search on "Business Models for Open Data" brings up numerous articles and studies on the topic that proclaim there are anywhere from a handful of major 'Open Data' business models to many more possibilities.

While we would like to come up with as short a list as possible, the truth seems to lie somewhere in between. We have ended up with a list of approximately 20 'Open Data' business models or strategies companies could pursue.

Examples of 'Open Data' Business Models

Products – Software, Portals, Reports
• Free & 'Open Data' Products
• 'Pro' Subscribers 'Open Data' Products
• Product – 'Open Data' Software Apps
• Product – 'Open Data' Visualization Tools
• Product – 'Open Data' Portals
• Product – 'Open Data' Reports, Studies, White Papers
• Product - Business intelligence (BI) Systems & Tools

Services – Training, Analysis, Updates
• Free & 'Open Data' Services
• 'Pro' Subscriber 'Open Data' Services
• Service - Data Analysis
• Service - Aggregating data
• Service - Searching data
• Service – Timely Delivery of data
• Service - Education & Training
• Service – Updating Data Sets

Tech Support
• Tech Support for 'Open Data' Portals
• Tech Support - Customizations  of Apps & Tools
• Tech Support – Customization of Data Sets

Examples of Selected 'Open Data' Business Revenue Strategies & Tactics
• 'Open Data' portals paid for by ads/sponsors
• Dual licensing data sets – 'Open Data Sets' & 'Premium Value Added Data'
• Sell useful 'open data', portals, apps and services to the Government
• Sell useful 'open data', portals, apps and services to Businesses (B2B)
• Sell  useful 'open data', portals and apps to the Public

'Open Data' – Public & Private Sector Synergy

The Obama administration recently claimed that its Data.Gov initiative is helping to create many new jobs and  start-up companies in the private sector across such diverse fields as healthcare, education, energy, public safety, manufacturing, and finance.  According to Lisa Schlosser, Deputy Associate Administrator in the Office of E-Government & Information Technology, interagency consolidation of datasets for public and private use is proving to be crucial to driving down federal government IT costs while contributing to the creation of many new technological advances by the private sector.

Open Data can be defined as selected data gathered or created by a government institution and funded by public money that should be made freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other excessive control mechanisms.

'Open Data' in Healthcare

For many years, Todd Park, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) for the U.S. Government, has been selling a vision of American health care in which companies support a new business model by using government data — e.g. USDA information on healthy food, EPA data on pollution, FDA data on clinical pharmaceutical trials, and much more.

At the 4th Annual Health Datapalooza Conference in Washington D.C. last month, key points made about how best to improve our healthcare system  involved the growing understanding of how to use 'open data' to improve quality of care, cut costs, and accelerate innovation. The recent release of many additional data sets by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is creating a wide range new opportunities for researchers and business entrepreneurs.

Finally, in an interview with Information Daily, Dr. Mike Short, Vice President of Telefonica Europe, recently stated that he believes that 'open data' could vastly improve the quality of people's lives in remote areas around the world and improve the care they receive. He added that in places where there are almost no healthcare facilities or hospitals, access to online health information & data may prove crucial to improving current healthcare practices.

Bottom Line

Who's making money? How?  Organizations across both the public and private sector  are benefiting from the 'open data' movement in various ways.  For example:-

Government Agencies – Selling access to valuable datasets could be a source of income for many government agencies.  They can also save money by granting 'open access' to public data and letting companies develop and sell services traditionally only offered by government.

Companies – They can take public data gathered and published by government at all levels, add value in the form of additional data or software tools, and sell it back as a set of profitable products and services to the government, businesses, or the general public.

Non-Profit Organizations – Like for profit companies, non-profit organizations can  save money by using public data, analyzing it, and adding value in the form of useful information portals and software apps for their constituency. They can also attract advertising and sponsors to help raise funds for their worthy causes.

* For more articles and information about Business Models & Open Source in the Healthcare sector see Open Health News.

Selected Links to 'Open Data' & 'Open Access' Organizations, Portals & Resources

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
CDC Data & Statistics
Creative Commons
EuroStat Health Data
Global Open Access Portal
Google Public Data Explorer
IBM Many Eyes
Open Data Commons
Open Knowledge Foundation
WHO Global Health Observatory
World Bank Health Data