Although I never tire of promoting the advantages of Washington, DC, the #epicenter of health care transformation, there are some things we don’t have, such as a fancy report card about the performance of our hospitals, like the Californians do (CalHospitalCompare.org), courtesy of the California Healthcare Foundation.
A lot of the hospital data for the District is available; we just don’t have a Washington, DC version of CHCF to liberate it for us. So why not reduce the barrier to making this data usable so enterprising people can do it themselves?
Enter the Community Health Data Initiative. Making available data usable in multiple Web 2.0 modern formats, add in a contest (I am a fan of the contest), and maybe the crowd, the people who live the impact of great or poor quality care can help this data work for society.
I decided to see if I could make sense of part of this, by collaborating with a patient (of course), in this case @ReginaHolliday, to prepare an entry for the Design for America contest, which is due by May 17, 2010.
Since Regina’s family experience involved hospital care, I took a closer look at the hospital datasets, although I combed the long list available at the interim work page to see what was relevant.
Data: Lots of it, all over the place, but efforts to make it more useful
There’s a lot of data out there. And, it’s quite the scavenger hunt to figure out where data has come from and how to apply it to one’s personal experience. HHS has its work cut out for it.
All of that said, I can tell from the interim work page that there’s been a concerted effort to package the raw data in ways that developers and ordinary citizens can use. Several of the ZIPped files have “CDHI” in their filename – this tells me that these are fresh compilations that didn’t exist before. This is a good thing.
Web2.0-izing at Medicare
The hospital experience data has really been tuned for Web 2.0, over at data.medicare.gov. There, you can slice, dice, tweet, access via API, via multiple scripting/programming approaches. What this means is that with some programming experience, a person doesn’t have to download the static dataset to their computer everytime they want to do something cool with it. Their web/smartphone app can query the server efficiently in real time, a la Twitter, to create whatever visualization a person wants.
Say a person wanted to create a tripadvisor-type app on an iPhone for rating hospitals by their quality. Now they could.
And here’s an example, of pneumonia process of care data for Washington, DC hospitals. See if you can tell which hospitals are better at delivering infection-fighting antibiotics within 6 hours of admission for pneumonia:
#333333; font-family: arial;" href="http://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Pneumonia-process-of-care-DC/rmw4-5c4v" target="_blank">Pneumonia process of care – DC
(Isn’t this cool?)
I have to say, I wonder if some families might see this and wonder if, in some hospitals, they should offer to drive to another hospital to pick up an IV and bring it to their loved one. I’m being facetious, but 6 hours is a really long time, and, some hospitals are able to start infection fighting pretty quickly, so why not learn from them.
I believe that to an extent, any hospitalization is a potentially devastating situation, maybe making this information more widely available would make it less so.
I’m going to do my best to help Regina get to a great submission to the Design for America contest, because I have learned from her the power of art in telling a story that words cannot.
And speaking of art, it’s useful to remember that changing the world is art and science. There’s no dataset in here that tells us that some of these hospitals charge 73 cents a page for medical records with a 21 day wait. We needed Regina for that.