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Four Takeaways from the openFDA Launch that Made it Wildly Successful (in our opinion)

This week has been a crazy week for our team (in a good way of course)! From sponsoring Indianapolis’ first ever civic hackathon (IndyCivicHack) to several presentations at the fifth annual HealthDataPalooza, we have been all about community building and open data this week.

One of our focuses throughout it all has been on the openFDA API launch. Our team has had the fortunate opportunity to be part the API’s beta which included working collaboratively with the openFDA team providing them with feedback on the API and building initial solutions on top of it. The experience has been simply awesome!

Mark demoing OpenFDA Search at HealthDataPalooze. Source: https://twitter.com/ahier/status/473909315469078528

Mark demoing OpenFDA Search at HealthDataPalooze. Source: https://twitter.com/ahier/status/473909315469078528

Four takeaways from the openFDA launch that made it wildly successful (in our opinion):

  1. Getting Feedback Early: the openFDA team solicited feedback early on in the API development process from end users and consumers of the API. This feedback was listened to and ultimately helped shape a very nice API at launch.
  2. Being Collaborative: If you are going to do #1 then you must be willing to be collaborative. From the get-go, the openFDA team collaborated with a number of stakeholders and was open all the feedback that streamed in. This ultimately resulted in a great product at release. Beyond the initial collaboration they are still listening and we bet they will be open to the feedback that comes in.
  3. Being Responsive: Send a tweet or message to the team and see what you get. You will be shocked at how fast they get back with you to answer your question. We saw questions over Twitter being answered by the community and openFDA team members within minutes (pretty cool)!
  4. Explaining Use Cases Well: Go to the openFDA website and you will see several queries tied to real wold questions about the data exposed by the new adverse event API. This helps consumers understand the possibilities and content of the API quicker and simpler. Beyond this, they solicited private beta testers to build solutions on top of the API which also provided additional sample use cases of solutions that could be created using the API.

The sky is the limit for openFDA …

There is no doubt that having easier access to adverse events data (and down the line the additional data sets the FDA will release) is going to drive innovation. We envision pharmacists, clinicians, researchers and consumers all benefiting from innovations created off of this information. We also see a feedback loop forming which in turn will help inform organizations like the FDA about source data clean up and potential process efficiency opportunities.

Introducing openFDA search …

Our first innovation on the openFDA API is ResearchAE.com. An web based application to allow you to simply query millions of adverse events. A user can enter a number of parameters and get instant insights. For example:

Say you want to know what adverse event reaction is most prominent in females aged 30 to 35 in the United States. To get the answer go here, however below is one of several graphs produced.

openFDA query: Female aged 30 to 35 in the United States

openFDA query: Female aged 30 to 35 in the United States

Now lets say you want to take this query further and see the same population but that had an adverse reaction of “bleeding”. You now get a result of 141 adverse event reports matching this search criteria and a plethora of graphs and AE reports to look through. Check out the result here.

We could provide many examples but highly encourage you to search through on your own. Please keep in mind this software is in beta mode so you may experience some bugs from time to time. If you do, we want to know about them. We also love feedback so send your wants/requests/feedback on to us. We know the experience on a mobile phone can be improved and we already have this on our to-do list for the future.

Finally we have been humbled by the articles already written about our tool …

Here is a short list of articles we have found that are already referencing and writing about the tool we spent several late nights working on. We are honored to have this type of response but really want to make it as useful as possible so keep the feedback coming!

Happy searching!

- The Social Health Insights Team

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  1. […] In fact, one application resulting from OpenFDA has already sprung up.  ResearchAE, developed by Social Health Insights, is a query interface allowing users to search adverse drug effects by multiple classifications, […]