April 23, 2014 |Project Tycho® Turns Big Data from Lazy to Active

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been collecting data for decades on the nation's health, demographics, social services, and scientific research. But what is the value of all this data if it isn't used?

As part of the President's government-wide Open Data Initiative to promote efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency, the HHS Health Data Initiative was launched three years ago. They have gathered vast troves of data which have been published at HealthData.gov, and they recently reached a milestone of cataloging the one-thousandth data set. These data sets include data from the CDC, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the NIH, the Administration for Children and Families, and other agencies.

Project Tycho® is one example of how innovators have put accessible government data to use in their efforts to improve health care quality, guide individuals to available health care and social services, and inform health policy.

Earlier this year, Kathleen Sebelius, then HHS Secretary, made this statement in her remarks to the Aspen Institute's Care Innovation Summit on the topic of 'Reimagining health care delivery'. "We're seeing innovation in the academic and nonprofit sectors. A University of Pittsburgh initiative called Project Tycho, for example, unlocks CDC data on contagious diseases which goes back all the way to 1888. Among other things, they've identified more than 100 million cases of contagious illness that were prevented by immunizations."

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The Project Tycho® database is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health

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