Last week I was in DC and I caught up with Bryan Sivak, a geek’s geek who has migrated from Silicon Valley (via London) to government service first in Maryland and now at HHS. He has a big job there to keep pounding out the open health data drumbeat Todd Park started. And he’ll have at least two big opportunities to do it this spring, first at Health 2.0’s developer conference Health:Refactored in Silicon Valley in May and then at the now 4th annual Health DataPalooza in DC in June.
The 2009 Digital Britain Report described data as ‘an innovation currency’ and ‘the lifeblood of the knowledge economy.’ We are now in 2013 and while there is tremendous buzz around open data in general, open health data is definitely lagging behind.
I have been a great proponent of the movement for a number of years after being inspired by Todd Park at a Health 2.0 NYC Chapter event. But it really clicked with me when I saw three young entrepreneurs mashup various environmental and health data, create an MVP app in 6 hours and win two prizes at an open data hackathon. These three students are on their way to starting a company and making a difference in this world while helping healthcare consumers make better decisions in their everyday lives. This is the power of open health data! We, the citizens, ultimately own the data, not our governments and while there is certainly a need to preserve our privacy, there is a lot of “innovation currency” locked up in vaults, desperately waiting to be unleashed.
Below, you will find a brief report (50 slides, but don’t get scared!) that Katarzyna Rabczuk and I put together. It showcases how nascent this movement really is, while showing samples of social and economic impacts of these initiatives across the US, UK and a select few Western European countries picked at random.
The United States is undoubtedly leading the way with HealthData.gov and almost 400 valuable datasets published, ranging from Medicare data to epidemiology. Health Datapallooza is already turning 4 with the next event taking place in June of this year.
The United Kingdom is right behind (or ahead, depending which side of the pond you are on) with Tim Kelsey pushing forward and “unleashing the power of the people to save the NHS from a crisis”. The next NHS Hack day will take place on January 26th-27th in Oxford and some of the recent initiatives to open up prescription data generated a tremendous amount of buzz after a team that included two startups, Mastodon C & Open Healthcare UK as well as Ben Goldacre, published a report that showed how to save the NHS ~ £200M – this news reached even The Economist.