The District of Columbia’s community of health, human, and social service providers are struggling with a familiar challenge: they want to be able to more effectively coordinate care among their patients and clients, yet their systems can’t currently ‘talk’ to each other.
In response to this issue, DC’s Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) initiated the DC Community Resource Information Exchange (DC CoRIE) to develop data infrastructure that supports coordinated screening, referral and tracking across a range of health, human, and social services in DC. DHCF selected the DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA) and Open Referral to lead an initial planning phase to help understand how to build infrastructure that would facilitate these functions. As part of this planning phase, we were tasked with the development of a Community Resource Inventory that can sustainably aggregate up-to-date information about the health, human, and social services available to DC residents. Continue reading
Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services has long been known as one of the most innovative government agencies of its kind: their data infrastructure famously enables sharing of client information across a complex array of programs and powers analytic capabilities. As Ian Mavero started his role as their Chief Technology Officer, he took on the department’s next strategic priority: further improving the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) flow of information about, well, human services.
“When it comes to information about residents — and activities of our programs — our data infrastructure is really impressive,” says Ian Mavero. “When it comes to information about our services, we have a single database that contains information about all of the providers with whom we contract and their associated facilities and services… But we commonly hear that our community partners and clients themselves, desire better access to information about these services. And we agree: community mental health specialists should have access to the same information about available services as our own agency’s case workers do.”
In order to share information about services more broadly and effectively, Mavero realized that Allegheny DHS’s IT would need to take another step forward — not with fancy new technology, just with more deliberate practices of structuring and sharing this existing data.
“We needed a standardized way to structure this directory information in a way that could enable it to be shared across all offices, with our contracted partners, and even with the public at large.” Continue reading
Happy new year! In celebration, I’m excited to share news about a big milestone in the evolution of the Open Referral Initiative: Open Referral is now fiscally sponsored by Aspiration, a 501c3 organization that provides facilitation and capacity-building support to nonprofit technology initiatives. Continue reading
Earlier this month, we published version 1.0 of the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS). Let’s take a deeper dive into it.
What is the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS)?
The HSDS is a format for data exchange, specifically designed to enable the publication of machine-readable data about health, human, and social services that are available to people in need.
HSDS is essentially an interlingua — in other words, it’s a common language that can be used by anyone to enable community resource directories to ’talk’ to each other.
Why did we develop the HSDS?
We believe that development of an open, standardized format is a necessary step in a process of reducing the costs of producing directory data, increasing the quality of such data, and promoting its re-use in valuable ways. Continue reading