Ozioma puts locally relevant health data in the hands of journalists

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Charlene Caburnay from the Health Communications Research Lab presented to the Health Data Initiative Forum today about Ozioma, winner of the Health 2.0 and National Cancer Institute Developer Challenge.

The name "Ozioma" is a Nigerian word for "good news," and it's a tool created for just that--spreading news by helping journalists access locally relevant health information. It brings together data from sixty sources, like the CDC and NIH, and 200 datasets, from cancer surveillance data to environmental risk factors and health policies.

The Ozioma team wanted to address three major issues, particularly for minority communities: disparities in cancer outcomes related to race, minority-serving media that hasn't been fully tapped, and the ability to bring a local angle to journalists--critical to getting stories published. The tool has significantly increased cancer coverage among newspapers using its information by combining community-level health data in plain language with an easy-to-use, free online system.

During the presentation, Caburnay's colleague gave an example in the debate around the importance of non-smoking mandates in restaurants, the relative safety of secondhand smoke there, and the use of filters. Imagining himself as a journalist reporting on this story, he speculated that he'd want local data about cancer and smoking, but in the past, where would that information have come from? And how would it fit into a journalist's schedule?

In a demo of the Ozioma homepage, he selected lung cancer, the state, then city, and refined the search to a specific race, all of which resulted in specific data offered in plain language to add to the story:

Imagine this news story is about smoke-free air loss. From Ozioma, he can drill down to local laws and regulations, then add that to the notes section along with the cancer data. Next, he showed adding resources for an interview and then a chart on related conditions. All of this information is complied in one notes section with the ability to add it into his news story with a single click. The whole process took only minutes.

See Ozioma for yourself at localhealthdata.org.

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Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and parenting.

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Translated this into Traditional Chinese.

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