CMS: Open Thyself.

Look at what the Guardian has done with data (thanks, Noah Brier):

We have compiled our top sets of publicly-available data for you to use free. Explore the links below, visualise and mash them together. Then, let us know what you’ve done.

They even have worldwide health care spending data for all to enjoy.

Now take a gander at how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shares its data.  There’s no reproducable text worth sharing here.  However, this is what’s important: it’s confusing and it’s not free.

Freely available data allows people to do marvelous stuff.  The mashing phenomenon has been around for awhile now; the fruits of its collective labor have produced some cool things.  The same goes for data visualization.  The Guardian has created its Open Platform to encourage participation.

CMS should do the same.

Because we present data (lots…)


While modern designers keep inventing more and more creative visualizations, the true frontiers this year may be much more modest?—?learning the limitations of graphics, and using perception-informed design and interactive techniques to make the most of the forms that already exist. The pie chart, which has borne the scorn of perceptual psychologists for decades, may fail in some respects, but modern visualization has in many ways failed to learn from its mistakes. Above all, we should remember that throwing data into a chart is not always the route to greater understanding.

Old people are online, too

The Millenials are called the Net Generation because of their (our) prowess on the information superhighway.  But since so few of them seek health care help online, why would a health care delivery organization waste time in creating an authentic online experience?

The result is that many health care delivery organizations’ online strategies suck (my opinion, it should be a fact though) (by the way, do they even have strategies?).  But wait!  Here is some interesting information provided by Pew Internet and American Life Project on health care decision makers:

Generation X (those ages 33 to 44) is the most likely group to bank (67%), shop (80%) and look for health information online (82%). (emphasis enthusiastically added)


(In the spirit of your favorite game show): That’s not all, Jimmy!  Look at these data on heavy health care users use of the web to find health information:

  • Younger Boomers: 74% of the 79% who use the internet
  • Older Boomers: 81% of the 70% who use the internet
  • Silent Generation: 70% of the 56% who use the internet
  • GI Generation: 67% of the 31% who use the internet

At a time when low cost everything is in vogue, updating (creating?) your organization’s online strategy is a genuine opportunity.  Get crackin’!

(Pew link via Ted Eytan, MD)