The chief technology officer for HHS said efforts to liberate health records and data within the federal space will spur innovation in the public and private sectors that improves Americans’ health and health care.

“We’ll save the world with health data and create jobs.” – Todd Park

Speaking at a conference on federal technology and innovation in Washington, D.C., Todd Park
told the audience that Health and Human Services and its sister agencies are committed to becoming “the NOAA of health data,” referring to the way weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has unleashed an industry of weather service providers.

“The whole point of this is not to publish data but to be a catalyst of innovation,” he said from the Warner Theater stage. “It’s a ton of fun. We’ll save the world with health data and create jobs.”

For example, Park said the Blue Button initiative (see video above) allows military veterans to access their health data — 430,000 veterans have taken advantage of the access. And the program has caught the attention of private industry, including large retail chains such as Walgreens.

“They’re copying Blue Button. Their biggest question was ‘Are you allowed under HIPAA to give patients their records electronically?” he said with a chuckle.

From medical research and scientific knowledge from the National Institutes of Health to performance metrics and provider directories, Park said information and transparency with appropriate privacy and confidentiality considerations offers the power to drive potentially cost-saving innovation in health and health care.

The Health Indicators Warehouse, launched in February, contains 1,170 metrics of community health and health care performance as well as consumer product information such as FDA recalls.

“We are bringing data right into the flow of where doctors and their patients need it,” Park said. “We are marketing the bejesus out of our data to innovators so they can turn our data into beautiful things.”