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ProPublica Receives Health Data Liberators Award for Transformation of Health Care Policy through Data-Driven Journalism

Companies mentioned in this article: Health Data Consortium

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Health Data Consortium (HDC), a 501(c)3 non-profit, public-private partnership working to foster the availability and innovative use of open health data to improve health and health care, announced today that ProPublica's reporting team of Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber, Jennifer LaFleur, Lena Groeger and Jeff Larson, together received the second annual Health Data Liberators Award for its data-driven series "The Prescribers." Dr. Nirav Shah, last year's recipient and former New York state commissioner of health and Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Health Data Consortium, presented the award to an audience of more than 2,000 innovators, health care industry executives, policymakers, venture capitalists, startups, developers, researchers, providers, consumers and patient advocates interested in increasing access to open health data at Health Datapalooza 2014 in Washington, D.C.

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HDC's Health Data Liberators Award recognizes extraordinary contributions to the liberation of health data, helping to accelerate the pace and volume of data available to innovators, and in turn foster the creation of products and services that will improve the health care system.

"In the right hands, health data is a powerful tool, able to bring about greater understanding of how our system works, and when deployed effectively, positive changes to policy, technology, clinical care, and patient outcomes," said Spradlin. "The work of ProPublica's reporting team to leverage prescribing data to evaluate gaps in our system and demand change is exemplary of the incredible value we aim to recognize with the Health Data Consortium's Health Data Liberators Award. We are very pleased to honor the ProPublica team for its work to make health care better through innovative uses of health data."

"The Prescribers": How Data-Driven Journalism Reformed Our System

Since 2010, Ornstein and Weber have closely examined the financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. While some companies have been required to disclose whether they paid physicians for speaking and consulting fees, there was limited if no understanding of whether these contributions influenced prescribing behavior.

The ProPublica Checkup team of Ornstein, Weber and LaFleur requested data from the Medicare Part D drug program on billions of prescriptions written by more than 1.6 million doctors and other health professionals. After months of reviewing and analyzing the data, as well as conducting dozens of interviews with doctors, researchers and outside experts, the ProPublica reporting team published a series of stories, "The Prescribers," which examined prescribing behavior. The series also detailed cases of prescription drug abuse and unnecessary costs in the system, and identified a need for additional oversight by Medicare. ProPublica also published a tool called Prescriber Checkup, designed by Groeger and Larson, that allows the public to compare doctors to peers.

The data-driven journalistic investigation brought swift results: the Health and Human Services inspector general cited ProPublica's findings in a report encouraging Medicare to investigate extreme prescribers, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the same topic. Not long after the series' publication, the U.S. government announced it would address many of the issues raised in "The Prescribers" and would give Medicare broad new powers to ban physicians for abusive prescribing.

"Our mission at ProPublica is to produce independent stories that shed light on abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust. Because health care is so complicated and data remains scarce, patients have had little help navigating life-and-death decisions," said Charles Ornstein, Senior Reporter, ProPublica. "We are honored to receive this award from Health Data Consortium, for our work to disentangle health data, empower the public, and spur reform."

Now in its fifth year, Health Datapalooza features keynote speakers, App Demos, breakout sessions and challenge announcements. Health Datapalooza also features 60 apps that showcase the newest tools, technologies and uses of health data. Health Datapalooza attendees can interact with the App Demos through live demos, exhibits and a "Genius Bar." The Health Datapalooza exhibit hall includes more than 60 organizations that are driving innovations in health care through data-fueled solutions.

For more information on Health Datapalooza please visit www.healthdatapalooza.org and join the conversation on Twitter via #hdpalooza.

About the Health Data Consortium

Health Data Consortium is a collaboration among government, non-profit, and private sector organizations working to foster the availability and innovative use of data to improve health and health care. The Consortium advocates for health data liberation; promotes best practices and information sharing; and works with businesses, entrepreneurs, and academia to help them understand how to use health data to develop new products, services, apps, and research insights. Learn more at www.healthdataconsortium.org or @hdconsortium on Twitter.

CONTACT:

Amanda Guisbond, 617-761-6797
amanda.guisbond@fkhealth.com

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SOURCE Health Data Consortium