The California Department of Public Health has launched its Open Data Portal, enabling researchers, clinicians, software developers and the general public to access and manipulate publicly available de-identified data.

The data spans several categories including birth and death profiles, poverty rates, West Nile virus prevalence, ER asthma hospitalizations by zip code and age, as well as the locations of hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

According to California HealthCare Foundation CEO Sandra Hernandez, M.D., data from other departments in the California Health and Human Services Agency, including OSHPD (California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development), will be added to the portal soon, which may allow public health officials and clinicians the opportunity to spot troubling trends "before they grow to full-blown crises."

Hernandez also said the portal will ideally reveal trends in healthcare delivery disparities.

"Crucially, the portal's resources will enable us to track and understand disparities in health across our large and diverse state," she said. "This is a less traditional use of data--and one that echoes CHCF's core mission of helping improve health and health care for all Californians. To understand disparities--by gender, age, ethnicity, income, and more--requires robust data collection and the ability to analyze it in multiple ways. We will be able to look beyond care in hospitals and clinics to examine impacts on health such as environment, geography, and social factors. When we come up with programs to enhance some aspect of health, public data analysis, distribution, and visualization will show us if we’re making a dent in the trends."

The portal is available here.

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