The Impact of Open: Keeping you healthy

of Sunlight: “In healthcare, the goal-set shared widely throughout the field is known as “the Triple Aim”: improving individual experience of care, improving population health, and reducing the cost of care. Across the wide array of initiatives undertaken by health care data users, the great majority seem to fall within the scope of at least one aspect of the Triple Aim. Below is a set of examples that reveal how data — both open and not — is being used to achieve its elements.

The use of open data to reduce costs:

The use of open data to improve quality of care:

  • Using open data on a substantial series of individual hospital quality measures, CMS created a hospital comparison tool that allows consumers to compare average quality of care outcomes across their local hospitals.

  • Non-profit organizations survey hospitals and have used this data to provide another national measure of hospital quality that consumers can use to select a high-quality hospital.

  • In New York state, widely-shared data on cardiac surgery outcomes associated with individual providers has led to improved outcomes and better understanding of successful techniques.

  • In the UK, the National Health Service is actively working towards defining concrete metrics to evaluate how the system as a whole is moving towards improved quality. …

  • The broad cultural shift towards data-sharing in healthcare appears to have facilitated additional secured sharing in order to achieve the joint goal of improving healthcare quality and effectiveness. The current effort to securely network of millions of patient data records through the federal PCORI system has the potential to advance understanding of disease treatment at an unprecedented pace.

  • Through third-party tools, people are able to use the products of aggregated patient data in order to begin diagnosing their own symptoms more accurately, giving them a head start in understanding how to optimize their visit to a provider.

The use of open data to improve population health:

  • Out of the three elements of the triple aim, population health may have the longest and deepest relationship with open data. Public datasets like those collected by the Centers for Disease Control and the US Census have for decades been used to monitor disease prevalence, verify access to health insurance, and track mortality and morbidity statistics.

  • Population health improvement has been a major focus for newer developments as well. Health data has been a regular feature in tech efforts to improve the ways that governments — including local health departments — reach their constituencies. The use of data in new communication tools improves population health by increasing population awareness of local health trends and disease prevention opportunities. Two examples of this work in action include the Chicago Health Atlas, which combines health data and healthcare consumer problem-solving, and Philadelphia’s map interface to city data about available flu vaccines.

One final observation for open data advocates to take from health data concerns the way that the sector encourages the two-way information flow: it embraces the notion that data users can also be data producers. Open data ecosystems are properly characterized by multi-directional relationships among governmental and non-governmental actors, with opportunities for feedback, correction and augmentation of open datasets. That this happens at the scale of health data is important and meaningful for open data advocates who can face push-back when they ask their governments to ingest externally-generated data….”