The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a web-based tool that makes it easier to find detailed U.S. healthcare industry data. The Health System Measurement Project "will allow policymakers, providers and the public to develop consistent data-driven views of changes in critical U.S. health system indicators," according to an HHS announcement.
The project combines datasets culled from a number of different federal agencies. The data spans topic areas such as access to care, cost and affordability, prevention and health information technology. It presents these indicators by population characteristics, such as age, sex, income level, insurance coverage and geography.
This kind of data could help healthcare executives benchmark their institutions' performance. For example, they could use the HHS tool to track avoidable hospitalizations for adults and children by region or ethnic group.
Population health data is also available on such conditions as smoking, obesity, HIV and low-birth-weight babies. Another excellent source of this kind of data is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Data & Statistics' website. That site includes a wealth of information about the prevalence and risk factors of different diseases, but does not cover the healthcare system in the way that the Measurement Project does.
The Measurement Project also presents the latest statistics on physician and hospital EHR adoption and e-prescribing. More comprehensive data in this area is available on the new Health IT Dashboard from the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC).