Making health data public

Some interesting stories on opening up data.  First, from NPR’s Shots blog, How Do Public Data About Heart Attack Treatment Change It?:

Measurement has long been a cornerstone of quality improvement, whether it’s on the factory floor or the hospital ward.

And making the quality scores of doctors and hospitals publicly available is central to the idea that health care can become a service that patients shop for intelligently. The results can also ratchet up professional peer pressure for improvement.

But does public reporting lead doctors and hospitals to game the system by withholding care from the sickest patients?

Some researchers turned to Medicare data to compare treatment of acute heart attack patients using angioplasty and stents. They looked at three states that have led the way on public reporting with other states that don’t report the results.

The upshot: New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts had lower rates of angioplasty — about 20 percent lower — than other nearby states that didn’t publicly report the findings. Overall, the death rates at a month after treatment were no different, however, and the rates of bypass surgery for heart attack treatment were comparable.

And from the New York TimesGlaxo Opens Door to Data on Research:

GlaxoSmithKline plans to open up much of its drug research in an apparent effort to deflect criticism that important information gathered in clinical trials often does not see the light of day.

The move, a first for a major pharmaceutical company, is scheduled to be announced on Thursday by its chief executive, Andrew Witty, in London.

Researchers contacted about the plan on Wednesday expressed a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism, citing the recent $3 billion settlement by GlaxoSmithKline with the federal government over charges that the company had misrepresented trial data for popular drugs like Avandia and Paxil.


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