A sample Shiny App to view CMS Healthcare Data


Steven P. Sanderson II, MPH


April 3, 2023


In this blog post, we will be discussing how to create a Shiny application in R that will download and extract data from a zip file and allow users to choose which data they would like to see presented to them in the app from a selection drop-down menu. We will be using the current_hosp_data() function to obtain and read in the data. This function is in the upcoming release for the {healthyR.data} package.




Current Hospital Data

Here is the current_hospital_data() function:

current_hosp_data <- function() {

  # URL for file
  url <- "https://data.cms.gov/provider-data/sites/default/files/archive/Hospitals/current/hospitals_current_data.zip"

  # Create a temporary directory to process the zip file
  tmp_dir <- tempdir()
  download_location <- file.path(tmp_dir, "download.zip")
  extract_location <- file.path(tmp_dir, "extract")

  # Download the zip file to the temporary location
    url = url,
    destfile = download_location

  # Unzip the file
  utils::unzip(download_location, exdir = extract_location)

  # Read the csv files into a list
  csv_file_list <- list.files(
    path = extract_location,
    pattern = "\\.csv$",
    full.names = TRUE

  # make named list
  csv_names <-
      object = csv_file_list,
      nm =
        csv_file_list |>
        basename() |>
        gsub(pattern = "\\.csv$", replacement = "") |>

  # Process CSV Files
  parse_csv_file <- function(file) {
    # Normalize the path to use C:/path/to/file structure
    normalizePath(file, "/") |>
      # read in the csv file and use check.names = FALSE because some of
      # the names are very long
      utils::read.csv(check.names = FALSE) |>
      dplyr::as_tibble() |>
      # clean the field names

  list_of_tables <- lapply(csv_names, parse_csv_file)

  unlink(tmp_dir, recursive = TRUE)

  # Return the tibbles
  # Add and attribute and a class type to the object
  attr(list_of_tables, ".list_type") <- "current_hosp_data"
  class(list_of_tables) <- c("current_hosp_data", class(list_of_tables))


App File

Next, let’s create a new file called app.R. In this file, we will create the Shiny app. The app will have a user interface (UI) and a server.

The UI is responsible for creating the layout of the app, while the server is responsible for processing the data and responding to user input.

First, let’s create the UI. The UI will consist of a drop-down menu that will allow users to choose which data they would like to see presented to them in the app.


hosp_data <- current_hosp_data()

ui <- fluidPage(theme = shinytheme("cerulean"),
                # Set up the dropdown menu
                selectInput(inputId = "table", 
                            label = "Select a table:", 
                            choices = names(hosp_data), 
                            selected = NULL),
                # Set up the table output
                tableOutput(outputId = "table_output")

The fluidPage() function creates a new Shiny app page. We also specify the theme using the {shinythemes} package. The selectInput() function creates the drop-down menu, which allows users to select which data they would like to see presented to them in the app. The choices argument is set to the names of the tables in the current_hosp_data() object. The tableOutput() function creates the output for the selected table.


Next, let’s create the server. The server will be responsible for processing the data and generating the output based on user input.

server <- function(input, output) {
    # Load the data into a reactive object
    data <- reactive(hosp_data)
    # Set up the table output
    output$table_output <- renderTable({
        # Get the selected table
        table_selected <- input$table
        # Get the table from the data object
        table_data <- data()[[table_selected]]
        # Return the table data

The reactive() function is used to create a reactive object that will load the data when the app starts. The renderTable() function generates the output for the selected table. It does this by getting the selected table from the drop-down menu, getting the table data from the reactive data object, and returning the table data.

Shiny App

Finally, we need to run the appl using the shinyApp() function:

shinyApp(ui = ui, server = server)

Pros and Cons


  • The app is easy to use, and users can quickly select which data they would like to see presented to them in the app.
  • The current_hosp_data() function is only called once when the app starts, which can save time and resources if the function is time-consuming or resource-intensive.


  • The app will not update if the data in the zip file changes. Users will need to restart the app to see the updated data.
  • The app loads all the data into memory when it starts, which can be an issue if the data is large and memory-intensive.