Data Visualizations for a Healthier NY
CTG has been partnering with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) since 2015 to explore the benefits of using data visualizations to help consumers better understand multiple types of health data already made public on NYDOH's website. The project, which began with a feasbility study in 2015, is based on the idea that dynamic, user-friendly interfaces, such as interactive graphs, maps, charts, etc., may help consumers better understand the data they're accessing and possibly even making decisions based off of.
When the partnership began in 2015, the project focused primarily on data used to help consumers better evaluate the quality of health care services provided by New York State's managed care plans. As work progressed, the team expanded the scope of their data visualizations to include new datasets, such as vital statistics that provide information about birth and death records. All of the datasets for which prototype visualizations are being created are based on data already publicly available. Each phase of the project has employed student teams who are interning in CTG's Student Technology Innovations Lab Experience program.
The current project has multiple main components:
- Refining, expanding, and finalizing the publication of visualizations previously prototyped to develop a fully functional online tool
- Developing new visualizations from additional datasets
- Creating the coding in a way that would be reusable to allow NYSDOH to modify & build on existing visualizations
- Assessment of any potential efficiencies or cost savings
The project is funded by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Determining the Feasibility
During the summer of 2015, CTG funded a summer lab of 5 students under the direction of CTG's Derek Werthmuller and Jim Costello to work in partnership with the NYSDOH Office of Quality and Patient Safety and Public Affairs Group. The students were charged with testing the feasibility of connecting data from the Health Data NY open data site to NYSDOH's regular public website.The specific goals of this phase were (a) test how NYSDOH could connect more dynamically to the Health Data NY site, (b) demonstrate the recreation of the existing Quality Assurance Reporting Requirements (eQARR) online tool more efficiently, (c) demonstrate how the existing concept of eQARR can be improved by prototyping different types of visualizations, and (d) analyze the ongoing costs and reusability of this approach with other data sets.
Expanding the Prototype
In the summer of 2016, a new group of student interns joined the CTG Student Technology Innovations Lab Experience program to expand on the work done by the students the previous summer. With the feasbility determined and the data visualizations in process from the previous team, the new team set out to improve and build upon the existing visualizations to better show what could be done with the publicly available data. They then presented their work to officials from NYSDOH.
Making Health Data Friendly
If your spouse has heart problems, wouldn’t you like to know which health insurance plan rates the best statewide in managing a cardiac condition? Now you can have that information in a clear and understandable format, thanks to researchers and student scientists from UAlbany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG), who developed software to produce easy-to-use “interactive data visualizations” for the New York State Department of Health (DOH). Read the full story.