RWJF Launches Data for Health Initiative

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced the launch of Data for Health (2 pages, PDF), an initiative to explore how information and data on health can be harnessed to help people lead healthier lives.

Led by an advisory committee co-chaired by David Ross, director of the Public Health Informatics Institute, and Ivor Horn, medical director of the Center for Diversity and Health Equity at Seattle Children's Hospital, the initiative will explore a range of issues, including how personal health data should be collected, protected, shared, and used in ways that are meaningful to individuals and that help providers and communities make a measurable impact on improving the health and well-being of their residents.

To that end, the advisory committee will host a series of events in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Des Moines, San Francisco, and Charleston with the aim of hearing from local stakeholders about their hopes, aspirations, and concerns with respect to different forms of health information; what new kinds of data they would like to access; how best to collaborate on improving health by sharing data across sectors; and how to secure the data. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, an entity located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also will participate in the sessions.

"Community developers, doctors, school districts, public health departments, consumers, and local businesses all need data for building and sustaining healthy communities," said Ross, whose committee will issue a report and recommendations in early 2015. "Finding out what problems people want to solve and what health information they need to help solve these problems will help us better understand how to design the infrastructure for collecting, sharing, and protecting data in ways that work best for communities across the country."