Collaboration, Discovery and Insight through Open Data Initiatives 3

"Open Health: stethoscope" by Maria Boehling for is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

This work, “Open Health” is a deriviative of “Open Health: stethoscope” by Maria Boehling for, used under CC-BY-2.0.

Last week, our friends at PACE Network USA were kind enough to invite me to write a guest blog for their site about open data initiatives and their potential impact on clinical trials. In the post, we mention OpenFDA as an example of the kinds of open data that could be a boon for health-related app developers and patients alike:

Simply put, open data initiatives like openFDA create new opportunities for collaboration, discovery and insight, and could greatly improve clinical trials by increasing researchers’ ability to learn from earlier studies and real-life occurrences. Projects like the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s CancerLinQ and Project Data Sphere (PDS) have already begun to change how oncologists share information with other oncologists. OpenFDA expands on these initiatives by allowing researchers from private companies and research institutions to easily access the wealth of information stored in the FDA’s archives. For patients, this can potentially accelerate access to lifesaving innovation. (from The FDA on Open Data)

Some developer teams have already taken on the task of developing web applications from the available FDA data. Social Health Insights, for example, created what is believed to be the first app based on OpenFDA data within hours of its release.

Their app is called ResearchAE. It allows users to quickly and easily search for adverse event reports related to millions of drugs and medical devices, as well as food and medical device recalls and product labels. And, they are planning to add the option of searching for clinical trial information from a multiple open data sources—including — soon.

This project is a great demonstration of the power of open data. It shows how quickly difficult-to-decipher reports and data can be transformed into information that is readable and useable by anyone. It’s easy to see how having access to open data and APIs can be a catalyst for innovation in technology. In addition, making information from open data sources accessible to patients can be a catalyst for innovations in clinical trial design as it helps patients to become more informed and empowered.

You can read more about Social Health Insights takeaways from the openFDA launch on their website. And, you can read my PACE Network USA guest post, The FDA on Open Data, on their blog.


  1. Pingback: Collaboration, Discovery and Insight through Open Data Initiatives | CLINYS – operational excellence for life science companies

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