Free the Data

Unlocking the Potential of Health Data in California

CHCF's Free the Data initiative seeks to develop new tools to access, analyze, and communicate health data in California.

June 2014

Through its Free the Data initiative, CHCF seeks to unlock the potential of government health data by catalyzing development of tools to better access, analyze, and communicate information. Audiences include journalists, entrepreneurs and developers, consumers, and state and local policymakers.

Examples of projects under this initiative include:

  • Health data for local policymaking: County supervisors and staff face related challenges — how to find relevant data among the numerous available sources and summarizing findings in succinct, visual ways to inform policy and budget decisions.

    Working extensively with potential users, CHCF commissioned the design and innovation firm Gravitytank to create a prototype tool that provides local policymakers with access to sophisticated displays of health data relevant to them and a system for integrating these data into summary briefs on key topics. For more on this project, read about Harnessing Health Data for Counties. Next steps are to investigate approaches for turning this prototype into a functioning product to meet the needs of counties across California.
  • State health data portal: CHCF provided California's Health and Human Services Agency with funding to launch a data portal that improves access to the state's health data and provides tools to visualize and download datasets. CHCF also supports Code for America and other organizations that help government leverage tools of open data to benefit citizens.
  • Relaunched in 2014, this CHCF website makes it easy for consumers to find providers and to compare the quality of hospitals, medical groups, and long term care facilities in California. Raw data files from the site's extensive nursing home offerings are available for journalists, researchers, and others interested in a deeper dive into variations in quality across the state.
  • Solutions Journalism Network: CHCF is funding a project to train news outlets in California and elsewhere on a journalism technique that employs data to highlight community solutions to health problems. Read more about the Knight News Challenge.
  • Events and convenings: CHCF is a proud sponsor of a number of open data-related events, including the national Health Datapalooza and the Healthy Communities Data Summit, which showcases work taking place across California to integrate data into health care decisionmaking.