The Observatory, gateway to health open data

14 Apr

Núvol Open dataThe information generated by the interaction of citizens and the healthcare system keeps increasing in size. Just to get an idea, last year, only in Catalonia there were nearly 45 million consultations in primary care centres, more than 700.000 patients were hospitalised, and over 150 million prescriptions were made. However, there is much more stored in administrative records (diagnostic tests, medical imaging, hospital prescriptions, expenditures, etc.) which are kept and managed in large databases. Government officials are responsible for the safe keeping of this information, and it may use it to improve the quality of healthcare and for healthcare planning purposes.

Furthermore, advances in the development, interoperability and crosslinking of the different information systems are making it easier to gather a large amount of data that will contribute to better characterise both the general and the patient population, and they are essential to assess the results of healthcare policies.

There is a wealth of opportunities with the increasing amount of data, all of them available in electronic formats and with more quality, and with the better linking between administrative databases. Thus, the information gathered leads to new ways of generating knowledge, especially when multiple data sources are combined (genetic, environmental, socio-economic, etc.) and made available to the citizens.

This turns information into a valuable asset for planning and assessment, but also for third parties, especially in research and in initiatives aimed at enhancing the use of open data.

Open data are a actually a philosophy, as they represent a practice that encourages the free access of data for everyone, without technical limitations. This means that the original files containing the data are available to the public in the most structured way as possible. This enables any computer system to read them, and even to easily develop software based on them.

This trend towards freeing the access to data is parallel to the need of the Catalan healthcare system of managing the whole life cycle of information, from the generation of information to the knowledge dissemination.

Information and communication technologies, and information systems become key strategic allies to achieve the above objectives, and to succeed in the integration, transparency, assessment and accountability by the healthcare system and its different actors.

In the case of Catalonia, the Autonomous Government is committed to a progressive disclosure of the available public data while respecting the privacy, safety and property limitations applicable in each case through the Open Data portal, where all data are indexed and characterised. This is done following the international trends regarding the disclosure of public data, and it counts with the advice from the W3C experts (World Wide Web Consortium).

The Department of Health is thus also joining the initiative of supporting free access to data and public information. This will enable to further advance towards an open government system, based on the values of transparency, service and efficiency, on promoting the generation of value through reusing public information, on easing the internal organisation of the information systems, and on fostering interoperability among the components of the healthcare system.

The Catalan Health System Observatory collaborates in this project by favouring the knowledge about the healthcare sector in Catalonia, and by supplying the citizens with health information to assess the healthcare system itself, to support decision-making and to favour transparency and accountability. With this objective, the Observatory is strongly determined to unveil to the general public all the information regarding their healthcare system. Along with other products, the Observatory publishes on its website a set of health and healthcare activity indicators, consisting of texts, charts and open data files.

Catalan Health System Observatory

Additionally, all the data published in the Observatory reports (Results Centre, Crisis & health, etc.) are also available to the public as open data formats and infographics.  Finally, the Observatory website provides a link to the open data portal and a collection of health open data available up to date.

Check the open data available at the Observatory website!

Open data gencat - open health data


Post written by Montse Mias (@mmias70) and Anna García-Altés (@annagaal).

Collaboration between professionals and citizens, a key factor for health data visible and useful

16 Jul

CrisRibasCristina Ribas, President of the Catalan Association of Scientific Communication (ACCC). Professor of Journalism in Internet. Universitat Pompeu Fabra

AQuAS and ACCC recently organized a data visualization workshop for health technicians and science journalists. The outcome of this session resulted stimulating and enriching for both profiles. Undoubtedly, sharing knowledge between disciplines encourages innovation and professional growth.

The workshop, taught by Eva Dominguez and Paula Guisado, showed visualization examples applied, mainly to journalism, but other institutions, are increasingly moving in the same direction. And it’s that the public rarely knows how to interpret and treat available data unless it’s accompanied by graphics and interactive tools. The Catalan Health System Observatory, for example, makes an extra effort to gather all network data from Catalan institutions in a single portal and, as Anna Garcia Altés explains, they are investigating how to use visualization tools with the purpose of providing a better service . Continue reading

The reuse of data: a transforming element of social and economic reality

12 Mar

AGA2Anna García-Altés, Head of the Catalan Health System Observatory

The information generated through the contact between citizens and the administration is of great importance, ranging from registrations of birth to registrations in the education system; employment; transport; housing and utilities; the development of economic activities; tax payments; health system; the judiciary system, and even death certifications. This information is essential for the development of the responsibilities that are attributed to the Administration but becomes an invaluable asset for secondary uses.

The current economic situation has highlighted the ever present need to base public policy on assessments to ensure that its objectives are met and, therefore, that an efficient public resources allocation is performed. Data availability is the element that facilitates the evaluation culture implementation in the administration. Data analysis in each are provides information on the policy effectiveness and efficiency and tremendously improves planning. Continue reading