Harnessing the Power of Data: Todd Park's Vision for Rebooting U.S. Healthcare

Brian Klein | medGadget | September 26, 2011

The first example Park cited was the Health Data Initiative. “Basically it’s an initiative to turn HHS into what we are calling the NOAA [pronounces "Noah"] of health data. “NOAA actually, pretty famously, not just collects tons and tons of weather data, but publishes it online in machine-readable format, downloadable by anybody for free without intellectual property constraint,” Park says. “It then feeds a massive array of private sector innovations like Weather Channel, Weather.com, iPhone weather apps, etc. that creates huge value for the American people.”

Park also points out the availability of GPS data, which was made public in the 80′s. That data now feeds everything from FourSquare, supertanker navigation systems, and everything in between, he says. The Health Data Initiative is an attempt to do the same thing for healthcare. “We want to open up the data and stimulate massive private sector innovation play—this time, with vast amounts of health-related data that are sitting in the vaults of HHS.”

HHS is releasing data that has never been released before and also improving access to data that has already been published. “[This data] has been public in the sense that it’s in books, PDFs, and static webpages, and we’re turning it into forms that developers can actually use,” Park explains. This will “enable the data to become liquid and then be used as fuel for other applications, services, and products.”