Director of Direct Relief’s USA Programs, Damon Taugher, was among a select group of presenters at the second annual National Health Data Initiative Forum yesterday. The event in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, profiled innovations in the use of federal data to improve health and health services.
Taugher’s presentation highlighted Direct Relief’s new site, data.directrelief.org, and the nonprofit organization’s widely recognized interactive maps of its health-material distribution programs. The site organizes and makes searchable the entire federal data set relating to the more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations and 7,500 clinical sites that that are federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) as well as Direct Relief’s own data on hundreds of other nonprofit community and free clinics that are not FQHCs.
Direct Relief’s innovations were selected in a competitive national process, and Taugher appeared on a speaker roster that included HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and other businesses and research institutions that have developed various applications with federal data.
The national conference drew hundreds of government, academic, corporate, and foundation health leaders to review innovations and explore such topics as mobile-device access to health conditions, enhanced insight into health trends, and geographic variances for various health conditions.
Direct Relief is the only U.S. nonprofit organization licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states, and the Direct Relief USA program provides over 1,000 nonprofit community clinics and health centers nationwide with free medications and supplies for low-income uninsured patients and in response to emergencies. It is the largest such program in the country.
Taugher’s presentation focused on the importance of organizing, managing, analyzing, and visualizing health data for both high-level trend and policy analysis as well as for the day-to-day practicalities of Direct Relief USA’s work in providing medications and supplies for people who need but cannot afford them.
“The fact that massive amounts of health data exists is great, but Direct Relief has organized it and built the application because we use it every day to help our partner clinics and health centers that provide care to a growing number of more than 20 million people,” said Taugher. “With our related investments in technology for inventory and distribution management and online transactions, we are able to be more precise, more efficient, more transparent, and more strategic with the private charitable resources that are much needed to fill significant gaps in our country.”