In 2021, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched the third call for proposals (CFP) under the Health Data for Action (HD4A) program, managed by AcademyHealth, to reduce barriers that researchers often face when accessing data by serving as a bridge between data owners and interested researchers. This year HD4A offered two award types: data access only awards or awards for first-time recipients of external funding, and fourteen new studies have been awarded. The grantees will be using data from one of the following seven data providers:

The new studies will examine topics ranging from chronic and complex conditions, health care payment, COVID-19, and telehealth, among others.

Timely Data to Face New Policy Challenges

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there have been many changes in health and health care delivery, as prominently seen in the increased use of telehealth. Rama Salhi and Mahshid Abir at University of Michigan will use timely data from the OCHIN ADVANCE Collaborative to examine national and regional trends in telehealth uptake to inform ongoing expansion of telehealth. Jiani Yu and Lawrence Casalino from Cornell University will use Colorado all payer claims data from CIVHC to study the extent to which telehealth can provide short-term access to care for different patient populations, as well as longer-term patterns of telehealth use.

Grantees will also be using the available data to examine the effects of COVID-19. The team from Drexel University, led by Pricilia Mullachery, will use HSX data to investigate if individual or neighborhood indicators of social determinants of health increase the risk for adverse COVID-19 outcomes. Michael McCarthy and Stephanie Nesbitt of Utica College will study the uneven socio-economic repercussions of COVID-19 on historically disadvantaged populations using TransUnion Healthcare data.

Using Data to Understand Patient Experience

Two of the newly awarded projects will use the available data to study the effects of Medicare policies and health insurance payment. David Meyers and his team from Brown University will examine the potential impacts of Medicare Advantage on financial outcomes and on racial/ethnic disparities in financial risk-protection using TransUnion Healthcare data. Virginia Wang and the team at Duke University will use Colorado all payer claims data from CIVHC to study the impacts on patients and payers of dialysis facilities' shifts away from Medicare coverage to private insurance after implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In her study using Health Care Cost Institute data, Wendy Yi Xu of the Ohio State University will describe the effects of surprise billing protections on outcomes among fully insured enrollees.

Grantees will also study a variety of chronic and complex conditions and the care necessary to treat them. Grantees Huanmei Wu and Gabriel Tajeu of Temple University will investigate diabetes and hypertension maintenance care through primary care doctors and emergency department visits using HSX data. The team from the University of Pennsylvania, led by Kelsey Lau-Min, will utilize Health Care Cost Institute data to provide insights into how to balance the prioritization of high-value targeted cancer drugs with the financial burden for patients. Elizabeth Matthews of Fordham University with Victor Lushin of Long Island University will use data from the OCHIN Advance Collaborative to understand how integrated behavioral health services within Federally-Qualified Health centers are utilized by those with severe mental illness and chronic diseases.

New Data Providers Bring New Opportunity

Each HD4A CFP seeks to include new and diverse data providers. One of the new datasets this year was from Geisinger, a fully integrated health system that serves central, south central and northeast Pennsylvania, spanning across 45 counties, and seven counties in southern New Jersey. Grantees using Geisinger data include Maria Alva of Georgetown University, who will examine the impact of gestational diabetes treatment on long-term maternal outcomes, and a team from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center led by Laura Bukavina that plans to study how the Controlling Nutritional Status (CONUT) scoring system is used for pre-operative risk assessment and decision-making for bladder cancer treatment.

Two projects will leverage data from the CareJourney VRDC T-MSIS Research Collaborative, which includes data from Medicaid FFS, Medicaid Managed Care, and CHIP enrollment, demographics, service utilization and payments. Betsy Cliff of the University of Illinois will investigate gaps in care coordination for medically complex young adults to inform state and health plan officials. Ashley Lewis and Sunita Desai of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine will utilize the T-MSIS data to study the effects of Medicaid’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program (DSRIP).

What’s Next for the HD4A Grantees?

As the new HD4A studies get underway, AcademyHealth will be working closely with the HD4A grantees to monitor their studies, provide support and technical assistance, and offer opportunities to build skills and capacity in dissemination and communication of research findings.

AcademyHealth is also engaged in a number of other activities to connect, build and sustain a dynamic community of data generators, users, health care decision makers, policy experts, and others. In April 2022, our vaccine-required National Health Policy Conference will be co-located with the Health Datapalooza and happening both in-person and virtually. If you’re interested in the newest and most innovative uses of health data, technologies, and policy decisions that that are improving health care delivery, be sure to check it out!

Maura Dugan Headshot

Maura Dugan

Research Associate - AcademyHealth

Maura Dugan is a Research Associate that supports a number of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) grantm... Read Bio

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