On Monday, FDA unveiled a new platform designed to ease the process for researchers, health IT developers and consumers to access the agency's trove of public health data, Health Data Management reports.
Details of the New Tool
FDA developed the new tool, called OpenFDA, in response to a recent presidential executive order to make federal data more accessible to the public (Goth, Health Data Management, 6/2).
The agency described the tool as "a platform that can be queried across many datasets and easily redeployed or altered to fit a variety of purposes" (Sullivan, Government Health IT, 6/2).
Specifically, the tool will offer FDA data in a structured, computer readable format, allowing individuals to:
- Query; or
- Pull large amounts of data (Health Data Management, 6/2).
The tool will also use a search-based Application Program Interface that will allow users to create applications on top of OpenFDA that can be used to access large amounts of publicly available data (Government Health IT, 6/2).
Such data include nearly four million records from 2004 to 2013. Formerly, individuals who wanted to access such information had to either request it under the Freedom of Information Act or peruse difficult-to-use reports.
FDA noted that data made available under the OpenFDA project do not contain any information that could potentially be used to identify individuals or other private information (Sharma, Reuters, 6/2).
FDA Chief Health Informatics Officer Taha Kass-Hout said, "Through this new and novel approach to data organization, these reports will be available in their entirety so that software developers can build tools to help signal potential safety information, derive meaningful insights and get information to consumers and health care professionals in a timely manner" (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 6/2).