NY Innovates – Nirav Shah Highlights What’s Next for Open Health Data in New York State


IMG_2516At this week’s health data conference, NY Innovates, the keynote panel was headlined by some of New York State’s open data experts. Dr. Theresa Pardo, Dr. Nirav Shah, and Dr. Jim Hendler all shared their expertise during the panel, which was moderated by the Director of Open NY, Andrew Nicklin.

During a discussion on the immediate future of open health data, Dr. Shah talked about the practical implications of open data. For example, every year, thousands of New York’s children go off to summer camps, and each kid will need a copy of his or her immunization record before they can attend. For most parents, this means a visit to the doctor’s office and a paper copy of these records. (And again and again when your child goes to middle school or high school or college)

Dr. Shah noted that his Department of Health has this immunization data on file. He announced that DOH is creating a blue button solution to save parents the annual trip to their doctor’s office. The DOH hopes to have this program in place by Spring, in time for summer camp season.

Later, during a discussion of the coming of the internet of things, Dr. Shah was asked about its potential to revolutionize health data in America. He was quick to note that the future would be full of data, but reiterated his (and his department’s) focus on the “low-hanging fruit” – not just big data, but the small data that he said we still use relatively poorly. The national health care industry is a $2.7 trillion “behemoth,” and nothing that size is easy to upend. Neither the internet of things nor small data will do that overnight.