U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Promoting public health with open data

Project

Healthdata.gov

Tech Specs

  • Drupal 7
  • DKAN Open Data Portal
  • FedRAMP compliant hosting
  • Docker
  • CircleCI
  • JIRA Service Desk

Background

Public health data needs improvement

The open data portal for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) serves thousands of active users each week. It is used to meet federal open data requirements and also to help developers, policy makers, and health practitioners improve public health outcomes. The site is powered by DKAN, an open source open data platform used by many governments around the world to publish data.

Healthdata.gov was struggling to reach its full potential. It was overdue for software updates and cluttered with old datasets that contained broken links or missing resources. HHS needed help determining what data was important and developing strategies for keeping data up-to-date and easily accessible. CivicActions, as the maintaining organization for DKAN, stepped in to provide support and partnership to the dedicated HHS open data team.

Approach

Decluttering the data portal

When we upgraded HHS to the latest version of DKAN we carefully identified which datasets were outdated or broken, and could be removed. We help the agency continue to practice good ‘data hygiene’ by watching for data errors or missing links, keeping the portal clean and usable.

Focus on quality

We work with HHS staff to evaluate metadata across the site so the agency can improve its data quality scores given by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in support of the Open Data Initiative. By focusing on data quality, HHS has motivated other agencies to improve their data files as well.

Protecting privacy and confidentiality

Since health data often includes sensitive information, CivicActions maintains Healthdata.gov to strict federal security and reporting requirements. We worked to update complex compliance documents and verify that the system meets federal standards.

Hands-on support

We meet regularly with HHS staff to answer questions, fine-tune new datasets, fix technical issues, improve user experience, and brainstorm new ways to help them meet open data requirements and provide value to users.

Improving public health through data

Our partnership with HHS helps the agency share information about the quality of medical care in the United States, databases of the latest medical and scientific research, consumer product data, community health performance information, government spending data, and more.

Impact

  • Researchers, developers, and policy makers can use HHS data to improve public health
  • Public health data is more accurate and up-to-date
  • Agency is meeting federal security requirements with updated documentation
  • HHS open data portal is less cluttered and easier to navigate
  • HHS staff are better prepared to identify the most important data
  • Improvements to the HHS platform will benefit other agencies using DKAN

Explore

See the data

Healthdata.gov

Health data in action

2018 Health Datapalooza

40

agencies sharing
health data

2,993

datasets housed
on healthdata.gov

Like what you see?
Join Our Team
Make an impact
Hire Us