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Health & Human Services Launches Health Indicators Cloud Warehouse
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new web portal providing important health and health care indicator data to support innovations in information technology. The Health Indicators Warehouse represents a vast collection of health and health care indicators along with new web 2.0 technologies to support automated data services through application programming interfaces (APIs).
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “The Health Indicators Warehouse provides a new public resource needed to fuel development of innovative information technology applications needed to improve health and health care decision-making.”
HHS featured the resource as an important step toward addressing data transparency and the agency’s commitment to its Open Government Plan and the Community Health Data Initiative.
The Health Indicators Warehouse is a collection of health indicators from a wide array of HHS data sources that are maintained to support researchers, technology developers and policymakers. Health indicators are measurable characteristics that describe the health of a population (e.g., life expectancy, mortality, disease incidence or prevalence, or other health states); determinants of health (e.g., health behaviors, health risk factors, physical environments, and socioeconomic environments); and health care access, cost, quality, and use. Depending on the measure, a health indicator may be defined for a specific population, place, political jurisdiction, or geographic area. Currently, the Health Indicators Warehouse includes nearly 1200 health indicators derived from over 170 different data sources, with all being downloadable via APIs.
“This resource is equipped with modern information services for the purpose of enhancing the dissemination and use of these valuable collections to improve community-level health practices,” noted Dr. Edward Sondik, director, National Center for Health Statistics.
The health indicator data sets and the web tools provided by the warehouse are expected to support technology development leading to a wide array of applications (apps) and data services.
Todd Park, chief technology officer, HHS said, “We recognize that one of the keys to better health and health care is data-driven decision-making at all levels and the HHS warehouse lowers the barrier for development of technologies to achieve this goal.”
In 2010, HHS demonstrated the value of these data sets in creating a wide array of web apps as part of the Community Health Data Initiative. In the coming months, HHS anticipates additional activities and projects to promote innovative uses of data and apps development to improve health and health care performance at the community level.