CHHS Showcases Data Playbook Version 2 at 2017 Data Expo


CHHS hosted the third-annual Data Expo on August 1, 2017 at the Child Welfare Digital Services office in Sacramento. The event brought together users of the CHHS Data Playbook from across the Agency and focused on concrete examples of departmental implementation of the Data Playbook, with each segment of the Expo dedicated to one of the five Plays in the Playbook. See the full event video.

Play 1: Define Goals & Objectives and Play 4: Evaluate Outcomes & Impacts highlighted a number of diverse departmental projects. These included Child Welfare Digital Services, a Health Plan Dashboard from the Department of Managed Health Care, a Health Information Exchange from the Emergency Medical Services Authority, CalFresh Geomapping from the Department of Social Services, and a data-driven analysis of the Department of State Hospitals’ Incompetent to Stand Trial Waitlist. Check out the full list of projects showcased at the Expo.

“The customer needs to be at the center of the problem you are trying to solve and needs to be part of the solutioning … Don’t bring an analogue in for a customer when you can bring the customer in directly … Nothing is better than talking with the customer directly.”

Peter Kelly, Chief Deputy Director, Office of Systems Integration

The Expo showcased five Innovation Use Case Teams from the Department of Social Services, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, California Department of Public Health, and Department of Community Services and Development. These teams are a part of the recently-established Agency Innovation Office, and provided examples of Play 2: Assess Tools & Capabilities. This Play focuses on how departments can utilize available resources to leverage data and analytics, with the ultimate goal of creating innovative solutions that address programmatic priorities.

“Our staff are very eager to see real, meaningful change … The staff that we tapped [for the Innovation Use Case Team] saw this as a meaningful way to really effectuate change … I think most people now see this as part of their jobs.”

CJ Howard, Chief of Policy and Planning, Center for Health Care Quality, Department of Public Health

Play 3: Implement Plan & Strategy provided a training session on two Data Playbook tools— the CHHS Data Sharing Agreement and the CHHS Data De-Identification Guidelines. Both tools aim to improve the ability to share data, while maintaining privacy and confidentiality. Alongside hearing from the two architects of the Data Sharing Agreement and Data De-Identification Guidelines—Jennifer Schwartz, Privacy Officer at the Department of State Hospitals, and Linette Scott, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Care Services—attendees saw presentations from departments that have used these resources to help meet their program objectives.

“The [Data De-Identification Guidelines] are written to be a tool to help you think about what your choices might be in terms of how you can display the maximum amount of data while still protecting it … Is there a way we can do it that hits the goal of getting the data out, but still provides the protection for the small numbers and for the clients we are responsible for taking care of.”

Dr. Linette Scott, Chief Medical Information Officer, Department of Health Care Services

The 2017 Data Expo concluded with a call to action with Play 5: Share Progress & Results. How can we better share information, projects, and lessons learned across the Agency as we delve deeper into data-driven work? Attendees first heard from Julie Nagasako with the Let’s Get Healthy California Team about their intentional efforts at sharing progress. Attendees followed up with a tabletop exercise to provide their own thoughts on how to better share progress and results.

“We’re hoping Let’s Get Healthy can continue to serve as one of those vehicles to help us see the connections across our work and also to be a venue for where we can share about the efforts that are underway to make improvements. When we map our efforts to common goals then there’s the opportunity to identify focus areas for collaboration.”

Julie Nagasako, Acting Director, Fusion Center, Department of Public Health

This year’s event was a culmination of the work conducted over the past three years. CHHS has moved from hypothetical scenarios of what could be done with data, to this year showing what departments are actually doing with data. Attendees left the event inspired by the possibilities of what they themselves would be able to accomplish, and fired-up for more opportunities to network, collaborate, and share ideas across the Agency.

Check out the full event video

CHHS Data Playbook: Building a data-driven culture

CHHS Data Playbook - 2nd Edition

Over the past few years we have spent a great deal of time opening our data and engaging with stakeholders to improve the programs and services we deliver. This work has also given us the opportunity to discuss how to better utilize data internally to improve our role and function as a government agency.

To capitalize on this work, we developed the CHHS Data Playbook to help further build processes and an organizational culture that is focused on data and data-driven decision making. This tool serves as a hub for data-related resources available to all CHHS Departments. This Data Playbook will change and adapt based on our collective experiences, and we have encouraged Departments to contribute to the resources and toolkits in order for us to share and learn together. We encourage everyone to help inform and shape the Data Playbook.

The Data Playbook consists of five plays designed to help Departments utilize data to inform program and policy development. Each play contains data strategies, approaches, and actions a Department could use to administer programs and address policy issues. The resources included in the Data Playbook are intended to expand consumers of data, this includes program and data analysts, budget analysts, procurement analysts, as well as policy and legislative analysts. It is our hope that Departments will leverage the various components of the Data Playbook and will customize to meet their needs.

As we iterate and build on the first edition of the Data Playbook, we will look to integrate new and existing resources. We know that a tremendous amount of work has been done already within Departments, and the Data Playbook will incorporate best practices and lessons learned in order to further disseminate these efforts. Moreover, as we identify gaps and needs, we will look to develop new resources intended to bolster our capacity and equip our employees with the necessary tools to succeed.

Since we launched the Data Playbook at our second-annual Data Expo in June, 2016, we have developed and added two new and important resources. First, a data sharing framework, which is intended to be the default legal agreement between CHHS Departments for all data types. This is intended to make it easier and faster to safely share confidential data among CHHS departments, while providing the appropriate documentation. It also will help to standardize data use agreements among our Departments, and reduce contracting and redundancies.

Second, we developed the Data De-Identification Guidelines, which are designed as a tool for Departments to prepare data for public release. The guidelines are intended to assist Departments in assuring that data is de-identified and meets the requirements of state and federal privacy laws to prevent the disclosure of personal information. These guidelines help CHHS Departments to release more open data to the public, safely and efficiently, to promote transparency while appropriately managing risk.

As we shift our focus from program-centered to person-centered, there is a growing need for disciplines to converge and government silos to integrate in order to improve services and outcomes. Furthermore, we have an opportunity to use the Data Playbook to bring people together to solve complex problems. This tool will help Departments identify how and when data can be used to improve both outcomes for consumers and the value of programs.

In the coming months we plan to further test these five plays by implementing the Data Playbook within and across Departments; collecting existing resources—from inside and outside of government—which can be leveraged with each play to further help Departments better utilize data; and establish and foster new opportunities for staff to come together to share learnings and best practices.

Please check out the Data Playbook on our GitHub page and provide us with feedback. If you have tools or resources that we can build into the Playbook, please share those with us by emailing us at

Thanks for your continued partnership!

Michael Wilkening
Health and Human Services Agency

Check out the new open data portal!

CHHS Open Data

The CHHS Open Data Portal is taking a big step. After nearly three years and over 250 datasets published, we migrated to an open source platform that uses the CKAN technology. This move helps users better leverage the tremendous data assets available on the portal. Look out for improved navigation and usability, a wider range of data formats, as well as upcoming charts, maps, and dashboards to visualize the data and bring it to life.

Check out portal button

We made these enhancements because the CHHS Open Data Workgroup, which has representation from all CHHS departments, found that evolving the portal was important to furthering the Agency’s shared goals of transparency, innovation, and engagement.

Please share your feedback at and follow @CHHSDataNews on Twitter.

— CHHS Open Data Workgroup


Apply for the Let’s Get Healthy California Innovation Challenge 2.0


Are you currently exploring a new approach or scaling an existing effective practice that is changing the health landscape of California? Let’s Get Healthy California wants to hear from you!

The Let’s Get Healthy California Innovation Challenge 2.0 seeks to uncover innovative approaches and solutions that improve the health of all Californians. This effort encourages all of us—state policymakers to local communities to individuals—to find groundbreaking ways that will help make California the healthiest state in the nation.

A webinar will be held on October 4, 2016 at 1:00pm to provide information to interested participants and answer questions. Click here to learn more and sign up for regular updates.

The theme of this year’s challenge is focused on the social determinants of health—defined as the conditions in which people are born and live. By sharing effective models and inspiring ideas, we can work together to design solutions that will help improve the health and wellbeing of Californians.

Click here to apply today!

Help spread the word by sharing the Innovation Challenge with partners who are making an impact. Use the hashtag #CAgetsHealthy.

HHS Open Data Fest III videos now available

Datafest-Logo_Rv-3-300x154In case you missed it – earlier this year, the California Health and Human Services Agency partnered with Stewards of Change to host two exciting California HHS Open DataFest events. The symposia, held in both Palo Alto and Sacramento, showcased new developments, highlighted innovative solutions, explored emerging knowledge, and shared practical applications from across the state.

The video for these events is now available on YouTube.

CHHS launches Data Playbook

Data Playbook Logo 3

The California Health and Human Services Agency has launched a new resource for data initiatives: the CHHS Data Playbook. The Playbook is designed to help build an organizational culture that is focused on data and data-driven decision making. The Playbook is a mechanism to disseminate best practices and lessons learned across the Agency, consisting of resources and toolkits to help staff navigate data projects and discuss data-related topics with common terminology.

The Playbook is available on GitHub so that other organizations can leverage and adapt it for their needs.

CHHS holds second annual Data Expo

2016 Data Expo Logo 3.png

On June 17, the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) and the Agency’s Data Subcommittee hosted its second annual “Data Expo.” The event brought together CHHS leadership, managers, and analysts from across departments to connect, share, and learn. The event linked initiatives and highlighted efforts underway throughout the Agency with presentations, panel discussions, and state and local showcases. Special guests included Amy Tong, State CIO; Carrie Hoff, Deputy Director with San Diego County HHS; and Joel Riphagen, Brigade Captain of Code for Sacramento.


Over 200 CHHS staff attended the Expo in person and via web conference

At last year’s event, the focus was on education and discussing the data needs and goals of CHHS departments. In 2016, the attention shifted to highlighting approaches, lessons learned, and the strategic direction set by the Agency over the past year. Onboarding all 12 departments to the CHHS Open Data Portal was an important milestone, along with the agile procurement approach adopted by the Child Welfare System, the launch of the Let’s Get Healthy California website, and the Innovation Office pilot currently underway.

The 8 Government Health IT Trends You Need to Know

GovLoop Guide Image

In May, 2016, GovLoop released a guide titled “The 8 Government Health IT Trends You Need to Know.” The guide takes a look at the current state of government health IT, innovations, and how government is driving the adoption of IT in health care.

Acting Agency Information Officer, Scott Christman, participated in an interview for a public sector spotlight on unifying health and human services in California. Scott said:

“We should be able to move data between departments in order to put the data together, provide better analytics, and drive better programs, better service delivery, and better outcomes.”

GovLoop aims to inspire public sector professionals to better service by acting as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop helps government leaders foster collaboration, learn from each other, solve problems, and advance in their careers.

You can download the full guide from GovLoop’s website by clicking here.

California Research Bureau releases open data case study

CRB Logo

The California Research Bureau, a division of the California State Library, recently published a case study on open data titled: “Making Open Data Work in California’s State Government: Lessons from Early Adopters.”

The paper summarizes the experiences of both the California Health and Human Services Agency and the California State Controller’s Office, including findings on governance, existing state law and policies, as well as privacy and confidentiality in the context of open data.

The report identifies several lessons learned from California departments working with open data:

  • To open your data, you have to know your data
  • Data can be messy
  • Strong, involved, executive sponsorship is critical
  • An inclusive governance team can develop comprehensive policies
  • Start from a strategic strong point
  • Create opportunities for learning, training and asking questions
  • Use events to build momentum
  • Learn from other organizations

The California Research Bureau provides nonpartisan research services to the Governor and his staff, both houses of the Legislature, and other elected State officials.

The case study is available online and on GitHub.

2016 UC Davis hackathon focused on coding for social good

HackDavis Logo

This past May, 300 students descended upon the UC Davis campus for 24 hours of “hacking for social good.” This was the first major collegiate hackathon at UC Davis run entirely by students. There were three different tracks: environment, health and wellness, and education. The California Health and Human Services Agency partnered with Hack Davis for the event.

The Davis student organizers put forth a compelling mission:

“We want people to build projects with a meaningful impact and hope to foster a community dedicated to social change. We find that most hackathons often don’t result with projects as practical solutions to specific societal problems and we’re looking to change that.”

Image 01 - Packed House

A packed house inside the UC Davis ARC Ballroom

Companies like Synaptics, IBM, and AT&T took the opportunity to interact with the many bright computer science students in attendance. Informative and engaging workshops were held throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night, including a class on personal branding as well as “Ruby on Rails 101.” At the end of the weekend, 51 applications were created and submitted.

CHHS joined in to share about the data available on the CHHS Open Data Portal. Several groups of enthusiastic students were excited to check out the data available and tackle the health and wellness track.

A number of health-related apps emerged, including two using Amazon’s personal voice assistant, Alexa. One of these apps, called NutriCount, interfaces with the USDA’s API to access nutrition information and uses voice recognition to tell users about the nutrition content of the foods they ate. For the next iteration, the coders plan to provide healthy food recommendations as well.

With another health app, a team of UC Davis students tackled the problem of locating and identifying health providers in California. The app allows users to input their health plan and symptom to find the appropriate general or specialty care providers in their area. The app makes use of the Medi-Cal fee-for-service providers dataset available on the CHHS Open Data Portal, as well as other data sources from private health plans.

Image 02 - Team CA Health 2.jpg

UC Davis freshmen of the “CA Health” team demoing their app

In developing this app, the coders found some quirks in the data, so the CHHS Open Data Team is taking their feedback to the state subject matter experts that can help make improvements to the data going forward. Data transparency can provide insight into data usability and quality, and participating in hackathons is a great way to help crowdsource the “hygiene” of the data.