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National initiative will share health data to spur creation of new apps

Article

A national initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Medicine aims to improve access to health data so that developers of Web and mobile phone applications, social media, and other information technologies can create tools designed to improve health.

A national initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) aims to improve access to health data so that developers of Web and mobile phone applications, social media, and other information technologies can create tools designed to improve health.  

Through the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI), increasing amounts of federally generated community health data will be made available to the public. By the end of this year, a new HHS Health Indicators Warehouse will provide one-stop access to HHS data related to national, state, regional, and county health performance on indicators such as rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, access to healthy food, use of health care services, and other matters. The site also will include information on proven ways to improve performance on particular indicators. Users will be able to view all of these data, download it at no charge, and integrate it into their own Web sites and applications.

 "In every science-based endeavor, data are the key to effective action," says Harvey V. Fineberg, IOM president. "We need to make more creative and vigorous use of the data we generate now, and we need to create a demand-and-use cycle that will bring about even better health information in the future."

The initiative hopes to spur independently developed applications that healthcare providers, patients, community leaders, employers, and others will be able to use to help in health assessment, planning, and action. The CHDI will not endorse particular applications.

"Our national health data constitute a precious resource that we are paying billions to assemble but then too often wasting," says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "If made easily accessible by the public, our data can help raise awareness of health status and trigger efforts to improve it. The data can help our communities determine where action is most needed and what approaches might be most helpful."

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