Government Healthcare IT Plans Hinge On Open Data

Kenneth Corbin | | September 23, 2013

Health and Human Services CTO sees big future in big health data as the government looks to expand its repository of publicly available, machine-readable data sets.

The white-hot controversy surrounding President Obama's healthcare overhaul -- grabbing headlines again amid the latest round of budget fights -- has largely overshadowed other areas where the administration is crafting health policy, including how to wring more value from the vast stores of data maintained by the federal government.

Historically, data sets about disease rates, clinical records, Medicare billing and other issues have been kept tight under lock and key within the sprawling confines of the country's largest health-data warehouse.

Freeing Data to Public

Many of them still are, to be sure. But administration officials have been warming to the potential to improve patient outcomes and lower costs by releasing more health data to the public, inviting developers, researchers and others to comb through the data sets that the government has compiled, according to Bryan Sivak, the CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services.