State Health Commissioner Announces Launch of Health Innovation Challenge

ALBANY, NY – New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH today announced the launch of New York State's inaugural Health Innovation Challenge, a four-month project that is being held in collaboration with the New York State Health Foundation.

The event comes a year after Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the debut of, a comprehensive state data transparency website that provides user-friendly, one-stop access to data from New York State agencies, localities, and the federal government. The site is a part of Governor Cuomo's Open NY initiative, which aims to make state government more open, innovative and cost-effective.

The Open NY site has been bolstered by an Executive Order that directs all state agencies to catalogue data that they collect and take steps to make public data available on the Open NY website.

Since then, the state has released millions of additional records from multiple government agencies, including campaign contribution and expenditure records from the New York State Board of Elections dating back to 1999 and state lobbying and enforcement records from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Releases have also included attorney registrations as far back as 1898 from the Office of Court Administration; and information on public authorities from the Authorities Budget Office. Other releases include:

  • Addition of more than 100 transportation datasets, maps, and charts including data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, Capital District Transit Authority, and the NYS Bridge Authority.
  • Issuance of Open Data Handbook providing guidelines to government entities participating in for identifying, reviewing, and prioritizing publishable data for publication – with a foundational emphasis on high quality, and metadata and documentation requirements.
  • Updated Openbudget.NY.Gov with FY 2014-2015 budget data, allowing an insider's look at the Executive Budget Plan.

Other releases were highlighted in a press release issued March 18, 2014, "Governor Cuomo Highlights Open NY for Sunshine Week," available at:

In March 2013, the state also launched Health Data NY, its open health data site. The site has expanded since then, including the release of school BMI data to understand obesity, Prevention Agenda 2013-2017 Tracking Indicators, Cardiac Surgery by Surgeon, Organ Donor Enrollments, and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program sites.

Last fall, DOH released comprehensive patient-level data for all hospital discharges in New York on Health Data NY. The site was the first open data site in the United States devoted solely to state health data accompanied by targeted public health messaging, extensive metadata and customized visualizations. Health Data NY not only provides raw data, but allows health care providers, researchers, legislators, advocates, academics, and the general public to analyze and download valuable health data in a variety of formats; review comprehensive metadata; create visualizations of the data; embed data and visualizations into their respective web sites with automatic refreshes from; utilize Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to build mobile applications; and share data and visualizations through popular social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.

In addition, DOH is currently working on a redesigned hospital quality website that will enable consumers to easily find hospital charges and costs for the treatment of many common conditions as well as information about the quality of care patients receive at each facility.

The Health Innovation Challenge will build on the open government initiatives and provide a way for innovators to put the health data to good use. The challenge invites multidisciplinary teams of coders and developers to create a technological solution that addresses the lack of accessible and useful information about the quality, cost and efficiency of health care services.

Judges from sectors such as health care, information technology, academia, and venture capital will review projects submitted by participating teams in August. Winning teams will be announced and receive cash prizes at a ceremony in September. The solutions that emerge from the Innovation Challenge will benefit consumers, providers and employers as well as entire communities as they focus on ways to improve population health.

"New York State is a recognized global hub for innovation, and this exciting event is proof positive of our ability to drive world-leading technological innovation," Shah said. "The goal of this Innovation Challenge is to generate concepts that will lead to technological solutions that will benefit all New Yorkers and enhance New York's health care system."

Knowing the value of these health care services will give consumers the information they need to shop for providers and health plans that provide high-quality, low-cost care.

Health care data is also valuable to employers, purchasers and government, who can use the data to better understand the cost and quality of the services provided. The new information allows providers to assess where they stand compared to regional and statewide benchmarks, which can lead to improvements in a more competitive marketplace. Insurers can use the information to build physician and facility networks, and promote improvement efforts.

The Innovation Challenge comes on the heels of NY Innovates, a four-day event last December that featured a Developer Conference and Health Data Code-a-thon. The Code-a-thon challenged developers to create technological solutions for the twin epidemic of diabetes and obesity. The winning team designed a texting application named Vera that checks in on the user's eating habits, activity levels and weight, as a way to prevent obesity and avoid diabetes. Taken together, these events showcase New York's evolving role as a hub of technology and innovation.

In recognition of the state's initiatives to make health data easily accessible, Dr. Shah was awarded the first-ever Health Data Liberator award by the Health Data Consortium last June. The 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.

All Health Data NY data can also be found on, the federal government's data site that's dedicated to making high value health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers to help drive better health outcomes for all. The availability of Health Data NY data on greatly expands the accessibility of valuable New York State health data to a national health data community.

To access Health Data NY data on, please visit:[0]=ss_ckan_author%3ANew%20York%20State%20Department%20of%20Health.

For more information about the Health Innovation Challenge and registration details, please visit: