Almost two decades into the millennium, data systems in health care are still working to catch up to those in banking, e-commerce, and other sectors that rely on data as their lifeblood. Due to recent federal policies and investments, significant progress has been made - and just in time. With Medicare and other payers shifting from volume to value, we are now beginning to tackle an even more daunting proposition - and opportunity. We as a society, and health care as an industry, are finally coming to terms with the fact that the biggest drivers of individual and population health are social, environmental, and behavioral.

The social determinants of health – income, education, housing, neighborhood – are critical predictors of health status and health outcomes, not only for individuals, but for populations and communities overall. Getting at these underlying factors through efficient collection, sharing, integration, and use of data between health care and other sectors will allow us to achieve the triple aim. Long-term, systemic success will also require action - not only at the level of provider and payer attributable populations, but in communities as a whole. In short, the goals of public health and health care are converging.

Enter two new community-focused programs designed to break down data and culture silos to advance population health: the Community Health Peer Learning (CHP) Program, led by AcademyHealth and Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH), led by the Illinois Public Health Institute in partnership with the Michigan Public Health Institute. With similar aims and approaches, and the common goal of improving community health through multi-sector data sharing and collaboration, we at the CHP and DASH national program offices have committed to a robust partnership, and a network-of networks approach. While meaningful collaborations are sometimes challenging and not to be entered lightly, we are committed to making this work; and bullish on the prospects – for several reasons:

  • Acknowledging health as a product of social, economic, environmental and behavioral forces: This is so critical to individual, community, and population health improvement that we are doing everything possible to support growth and sustainability of this movement.
  • Building the evidence base: The field of multi-sector data integration and sharing to improve community health is in its infancy. Together, we can more quickly learn, identify barriers, document effective strategies, and share that knowledge to aid this critical component of health transformation
  • Shared belief in the power of peer learning and collaboration to extend impact: Together, we have a chance to help generate and accelerate knowledge sharing with insights, lessons learned and resources. CHP and DASH together have a cohort of 25 projects across the country that engages different sectors, using different technical and organizational approaches, to achieve a diverse set of community health improvement objectives.

In the coming months, we will establish affinity groups across programs to cultivate shared learning and collaboration opportunities for those tackling common challenges or with similar population improvement goals. By expanding communication channels within and beyond health care, we also hope to build a culture of “health in all policies.” We share a passion for this work and are excited to foster collaborations that can have a far-reaching influence on individual and population health.

These activities build on an already-established set of collaborative work. Over the last few months, we have co-developed many aspects of our respective programs, coordinated outreach, and initiated conversations with other allied programs and resources that could potentially join this network of networks. Working together has increased efficiency and accelerated our own learning and processes. We have also been participating in joint speaking opportunities, which have facilitated prospective engagements for awardees from both programs to co-present.

It is quickly becoming clear to us that a broader network, including ours, creates more opportunity for people to connect, learn, and collaborate in ways that advance their own discrete efforts, and also accelerate the pace of progress for others. We recognize that together the DASH and CHP programs can enhance their collective impact, and we are eager to continue learning, sharing, and building capacity for this critically important work.

For more information about this collaboration and the involved programs, join this listserv.

Blog comments are restricted to AcademyHealth members only. To add comments, please sign-in.