Using HHS Health Data: Got an App for Quality Care?

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , June 3, 2010

One company introduced a new way to track and manage anonymously the occurrence of asthma—via a GPS device in an inhaler. This method would look at how often asthma inhalers were being used and where they were being used on a map. This information could be viewed on a computer or a mobile device to show if asthma symptoms were being controlled and where asthma symptoms were most likely to arise

And another provided different ways to use dashboards and data sets to support research. As one example, a map was used to mark the areas where child poverty was high in counties around the country, to note the availability of HHS federal assistance grants in those areas, and to show locations of nearby hospitals providing acute care.

And who said data can’t be fun? A new social networking online game, called Community Clash, was launched at the meeting to help learn about available health data, according to its creators. It permits two players representing two communities to duel with their cards over such topics as rates of obesity, death by motor vehicle, exercise, or smoking. Conversation is encouraged afterwards through channels such as Twitter or Facebook.

This is only the beginning, Corr said. "HHS is not controlling, choreographing, or paying for the development of these applications.”

“Our role simply is to supply high quality, free community health data, and then let you—the innovators—take it from there," he said.

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Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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