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Many health agencies launch big data projects

Nov. 13, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

The administration is ramping up its use of public-private partnerships to help spur innovations in big data, according to agency officials.

John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at the Data to Knowledge to Action Conference in Washington Tuesday that agencies from across the government were launching projects to better use big data to help lower costs and spur new research.

He said as the amount of data agencies generate increases rapidly, they will need the help of the private and public sectors in order to harness its potential.

“The big data revolution is much bigger than any government program or government programs,” Holdren said.

Holdren announced the creation of several partnerships, including:

■A pilot project between Health and Human Services, universities and non-governmental organizations to explore the use of biodynamic data to help predict future pandemics.

■A crowdsourcing project by the Energy Department encouraging the public to use large amounts of energy data to help find ways to teach consumers how to lower their energy bills.

■An NIH partnership with up to eight universities to help better use biomedical data in health research.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced on Tuesday the launch of a virtual research data center that would improve the ability of researchers to access the large and complex data sets the agency products.

Previously, the agency had filled researcher requests by preparing and shipping encrypted data files, but now the researchers will be able to access the data from their own workstations.

“By providing researchers with secure, timely and affordable access to CMS data, the agency is making it easier to do the important research that will lay the foundation for better quality and lower costs in the health care system,” CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner said.

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