A New Way to Explore and Comment on Doctor Data

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The American Medical Association (AMA) says the number one issue with recent data releases from HHS is that “there is currently no mechanism for physicians and other providers to review and correct their information.”

We think we have a way to fix that problem over at the DocGraph project!

Over the last two years there have been three major breakthroughs in the analysis of doctors using Open Data. The first was the original teaming and referral database obtained by DocGraph (us) under a FOIA request. The second was the prescribing data set obtained by ProPublica. Both DocGraph and Propublica worked around the 1978 injunction limiting the use of FOIA for doctor data.

The third is the new procedure pattern data set announced as the direct result of the overturning of the 1978 injunction.

We are happy to announce the release of the first “all-in-one” open doctor data browser that we are calling DocGraph Omni. We have created a public tool that allows you to browse the merger of all three major new open data sets about doctors and other healthcare providers that bill Medicare.

Now in one place you can view how a provider prescribes, how they collaborate, and which procedures they work with. Our intention to turn Omni into a browser where you can find any open data about doctors, no matter what the source.

But this is not just about “finding” the data. We have created a system that allows anyone to comment on any given data point in these data sets.

All throughout DocGraph Omni are little push-pin icons, next to almost every data point that we have about doctors.

Using these icons, you can quickly reach a comment form that allows you to report your opinions, insights, questions, and insider information about any provider data that has been released.

We have consistently been dubious about the notion of “doctor rating websites”. Too often doctors are unfairly rated because they insisted that a patient bill be paid in full or because they refused to give antibiotics for viral infections. Patients are forced to focus on how good a doctor’s bedside manner is, rather than on the quality of the care they deliver.

With the push-pin project, any patient, colleague, coworker, or even the provider themselves can provide context to open data regarding a provider. The push-pin will move doctor rating systems out of the era of personality rating and into the era of performance rating.

For now, the push-pin system is just a sensor network. DocGraph will not display any push-pin comments on DocGraph Omni without reviewing them ourselves or without giving the providers in question the opportunity to respond to the them in advance. We need to flesh out how we will engage with providers in order to ensure that they are treated fairly.

Until that happens we will gather comments using the push-pins, but we will not be displaying the comments back on the provider pages. The push-pin project is about making doctor rating systems more fair and more objective, and until we understand more about what kinds of comments people will make, we don’t want to jump the gun.

We will also be submitting DocGraph Omni to the ONC Data Supporting Visualizations Challenge. With that in mind we will be releasing a major new improvement to the DocGraph Omni site each week until the contest. Right now the site is just a raw data browser.

That makes it easy to find, view and comment on the data, but it is still too difficult for consumers to leverage this data in a way that impacts their healthcare positively. We will be releasing more consumer-friendly data views and data tools at this data over the weeks to come, so watch this space.

More importantly, we want to help others leverage these merged data sources to provide new value to consumers. With that in mind we are announcing a collaboration with CajunCodeFest to use these data sets to support their “Aging In Place” theme. We will be hacking and giving lectures at CajunCodeFest so if you want to get some lessons on how to work with this data in person, that is the place to meet!

We would be more than happy to help you leverage our data to submit your own entry to the ONC competition.

Fred Trotter (@fredtrotter) is a healthcare data journalist and author. He is a technical blogger for O’Reilly Radar and is the co-author of the first Health IT O’Reilly book Hacking Healthcare. Fred Trotter is deeply involved in the e-patient movement, the quantified selfmovement, the health 2.0 community. In all of those environments, Trotter has focused on building tools that help empower patients to improve their own health. You can follow him at his personal website.

2 replies »

  1. Meaningfully useless data, as I see when looking at a few docs’ data. What a waste!