Precision medicine, Blue Button high priorities in Open Government plan


The Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program and a pilot of the display of Quality Ratings Systems star ratings for marketplace health plans that begins next month are among the seven new flagship initiatives outlined in the latest version of the Health and Human Services Department’s Open Government Plan.

In the plan (.pdf), unveiled Thursday, HHS says that the initiatives represent advances in financial reporting, digital strategies and open source code that help to drive modern technology adoption.

“We’re seeking new approaches to connect with underserved communities to share ways HHS can help them have the building blocks for healthy and productive lives,” HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., says in a blog post promoting the plan. “Many of these efforts come in the form of making data and information products available to the public.”

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Other efforts recognized as flagship initiatives in this, the fourth iteration of HHS’s Open Government plan, and the first since version 3.0 was released in July 2014, include:

  • Enhancement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Blue Button service: CMS wants to “provide a developer-friendly, standards-based data Application Programming Interface that enables beneficiaries to connect their Medicare claims data to the applications, services and research programs they trust,” the plan says. CMS is using HL7’s Fast Health Interoperability Resource or FHIR framework in these efforts, and plans to pilot new Blue Button functionality next summer.
  • Updates to the Open Payments program, which provides transparency about the financial relationships between doctors and the healthcare industry.
  • Transformation of the Health Resources and Service Administration’s Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program: “One area of focus in revising the program’s National Performance Measures is for the Federal MCH program to assume lead responsibility in ensuring that each measure has a national data source, which will allow for timely, reliable and valid data reporting,” HHS says. “In addition to being actionable and allowing for greater accountability, the new performance measure framework is intended to track areas where the State MCH programs can best demonstrate the impact of their Title V investments.”
  • The patient-focused drug development
  • The recently created public comment database for the Physical Activity Guidelines update process

“Emphasis is made throughout this plan on the application of innovative processes and applications of technology to improve on each programs’ ability to achieve its goals,” HHS says.

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