Start: October 2020

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Increasingly, communities are testing new ways to improve health, well-being, and equity by sharing data among public health, health care, and social services systems. In addition to leading data-sharing efforts at a local level, community partners can also connect with state policymakers that have various tools and “levers” at their disposal to support these efforts to improve health, especially within communities most at risk of inequities. For example, these levers include:

  • Data access: Community-level data can drive integration and inform state policy, and states may have data that is needed by communities. 
  • Policy and legal clarity: States can clarify and amend as warranted the regulations that govern how and what data can be shared.
  • Shared services and systems: States may develop or purchase systems that can be made available to communities (e.g., health information exchanges, social services referral platforms). 
  • Interoperability rules: Communities and states may play a role in developing standards or guidance to ensure data can be linked across sectors. 
  • Financing: States can change how services are paid for and what metrics need to be captured to align incentives and accountability; and support communities’ sustainable infrastructure development. 
  • Managed care organization contracting: States can integrate language into managed care organization contracts that encourage collaboration with communities (e.g., social services referrals).

As part of its focus on strengthening alignment among public health, health care, and social services sectors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) in partnership with the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) to lead an initiative that supports communities to strengthen and leverage relationships with state agencies in support of data-sharing efforts. Learning and Action in Policy and Partnerships (LAPP) will enable communities to bolster state partnerships to better inform inclusive policy and systems alignment at both the community and state level.

Sharing data across sectors and building relationships among community and state partners can inform decision making to improve community health and wellbeing, strengthen systems of care, and break down silos that perpetuate disparities and poor health. Further, the impact of the events in 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, social uprisings and the demand for racial justice, provide critical context for a community collaborative approach to improve their use of data and relationships with state government in efforts to improve health, equity, and well-being.