St. Louis, Mo. (KMOX) – We live in an era of information overload.  Now the government is releasing even more data.  One expert says, in the right hands it could be a tool for change in this country’s massive health care system.

Imagine you’ve just been released from the hospital.  You need appointments for several specialists, meals delivered, and transportation.  Now there’s an app for that, so to speak.  “While apps are cool, they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s available in the health care system,” says Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Thanks to reams of data made available by HHS, one private company has created a computer program that allows a nurse to easily access resources and meet patient needs with one phone call.  “This patient who probably wasn’t in the mood to flip icons around on her iPad was actually getting help — data powered help through an incredibly effective, time-tested user-interface which is called talking to another human being.”

Park says that’s just one of many examples of how private innovators are using public information to help consumers, health care professionals, employers and policy makers.  “What we’re seeing is just an absolute explosion in the breadth and depth of innovations that entrepreneurs across the country are building and deploying to benefit the public powered in part by our free and open data.”  He says it ranges from computer-generated maps that show city officials “food deserts”, or places where residents lack access to fresh foods, to programs that help consumers compare health care facilities.

Park will be in St. Louis this Friday for the Missouri Health Data Summit, sponsored by the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the Midwest Health Initiative.

Click here for a link to the Missouri Foundation for Health

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