HHS initiative provides online tools for healthcare data analysis

On May 15, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of the Health System Measurement Project, through which policymakers, providers and the public can use online tools to develop data-driven charts and views of changes in important health system indicators.

The department said the resource would make it easy for the public to monitor and measure how the nation’s healthcare system is performing.

The web-based application brings together datasets from across federal agencies that span topical areas, such as access to care, cost and affordability, prevention and health information technology. It presents those indicators by population characteristics, such as age, sex, income level, insurance coverage and geography.

A user can look at data on a given topical area from multiple sources, compare trends across measures and compare national trends with those at the state and regional level.

For example, an individual could use the tool to examine the percentage of people who have a specific source of ongoing medical care or track avoidable hospitalizations for adults and children by region or ethnic group. It could also be used to explore the percentage of non-elderly individuals who have health insurance.

“Ensuring all Americans have access to these data is an important way to make our healthcare system more open and transparent,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a prepared statement.

The tool contains information on how the measures were calculated and provides users with direct links back to the original data sources.

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation developed and selected the measures in the Health System Measurement Project.