From Data to Wisdom: Baking Knowledge and Expertise into Government Health Data

David Hale* David Hale*, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, United States

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Mobile & Tablet Health Applications
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Lower Auditorium 120
Date: 2011-09-18 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-12

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The U.S. government’s Open Government Initiative focuses on transforming government data into platforms for innovation that directly benefit citizens. Empowering industry, academic researchers, and citizens to solve challenges requires more than a raw download.
Data is only one component of the value that public health agencies can provide through open government. The missing link is their knowledge, experience, and expertise. These critical elements must be baked into a data system through partnerships, cooperative weaving and mashing of data, and development of web and backend services that provide Health IT developers, researchers, and citizens access to that know-how, adding context to the content.
This session will highlight the limits of open government health data as raw downloads; demonstrate methods of encapsulating the knowledge and expertise of public health agencies into a data system and promoting innovation in the startup community, industry, and academic research; present a model to create a cooperative environment where diverse, risk-adverse stakeholders set aside differences and utilize multi-agency data systems to improve the public health; show how data systems such as these can bridge the gap between public health agencies, industry, and citizens and increase meaningful utilization of public health data; demonstrate point-of-care applications created utilizing systems of this type
The two data sets from which the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Pillbox ( is derived (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Structured Product Labels (SPL) and NLM's RxNorm) have been freely available for years as raw data downloads, but contain inherent barriers which have prevented their use by all but a limited number of industry experts. Recognizing this challenge, the NLM and FDA formed an interagency team comprised of regulatory and legal experts, pharmacists, and computer scientists to break down these barriers and create a system that is not only open, but also useable and adaptable by all.
The mashup of these two data sets involved translating regulatory requirements and user personas developed through ethnographic field study into a system to parse the complex schema of drug labeling information, normalize and augment that data, and create a search and discovery system tailored to address the complexities of medication identification and reference. More than providing data access through online tools and an API/web services, Pillbox's “secret sauce” is that it encapsulates the knowledge and expertise of two public health agencies.
In addition to creating a platform for the development of innovative applications in areas such as drug identification, medication management, clinical decision support, and emergency response Pillbox is uncovering errors in drug labeling information which have remained uncorrected for years, increasing industry awareness of those errors, bringing stakeholders together to improve accuracy of drug label data, and opening the door to development of innovative solutions to increase validation and accuracy of this data.

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