Cross posted from the California Health Data Blog.
One of the opportunities afforded as a Health Data Ambassador is the opportunity to interact and learn from health experts from the local, county and state level. This past month, I had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Christman CIO of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).
Hack for LA, the local Code for America brigade in Los Angeles, invited Scott to speak at our monthly brigade civic hack night at Impact Hub LA.
Before the event kicked off, Scott and I sat down to chat. We swapped stories about our experience working in government, our days working as cartographers, and then we dug into discussing the California Health Data Program and Scott’s role in the program. I had so many questions for Scott about the program covering topics such as:
How to get department buy-in for open data,How to plan for, sustain, and manage data publication,Best practices for in-house data training, andHow to establish policies around privacy, safety, and scrubbing personal identifiable information from health datasets.
What I wasn’t prepared for in Scott’s answers was the depth and breadth of the work taking place inside of OSHPD as part of the California Health Data Project. Often when I work with governments or NGOs publishing datasets, they don’t usually have experience with many of these issues and are just learning about them as they launch open data initiatives.
Scott, however, shared with me that the California Health & Human Services Agency (CHHS) has 12 fairly autonomous departments, each of whom is expected to participate in the open data program.
Scott and his colleagues have an internal open data program that’s robust and growing. A few highlights from program they are developing:
- The CHHS Open Data Handbook published open source on github; including the why, and soon how, for publishing open dataEstablished support for each of the 12 departments to develop department specific internal governance process support open data publishing
- Formed a data governance committee that serves all of CHHSLaunched an Open Data Workgroup with membership from each department currently publishing data
- Members of the Workgroup review publishing data inventories from each department to identify areas of overlap requiring explanation or strategic opportunities to coordinate the release of priority datasets.
- Metadata requirements for every dataset published, including a text description of the dataset, data collection methods and tools, a health data specific category association (Demographics, Diseases and Conditions, Facilities and Services, Health Workforce, Healthcare Quality, or Human Interest), keyword tags, and licensing information.
- Shared How-to resources including a set of publishing instructions with details on everything from staff procedures for acquiring log-ins to the data publishing portal, to visualization constraints of different data formats, to data dictionary preparation.
Their challenge now, is our challenge too. Without context the data on this portal is just that, data. No impact on our daily lives, no improvements to healthcare services. So where do we go from here? Now we connect the people, the subject experts, the doctors, the patients, the researchers, with the knowledge of the problem — with programmers, designers, activists, data scientists, and together we find the leverage points, the places we can use data driven technology for the greatest impact. Each of us can contribute to the solution with our own skills, passion and expertise.
Across the country Code for America brigades are seeking to do just this, to be that connection. Join me and Hack for LA at our next Civic Hack Night July 28th 2015. We’ll talk to Andy Krackov from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) about health data and why CHCF decided to launch the CA Health Ambassador’s program.