Sharing data can improve health care

It’s no secret that we measure just about everything at Cincinnati Children’s. We do it so we can tell how we’re doing in our quest to be the leader in improving child health.

We also share the information because we believe the more people who have the knowledge, the greater the advancements we can make. We’ve seen it work in a chronic care collaborative we have for children with inflammatory bowel disease. We’ve seen it with our cystic fibrosis program, which has gone from sub-par to one of the best thanks to sharing information among providers and with families.

In today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of our doctors makes the case for sharing access to government health care data. Through President Obama’s “Open Government Directive,” Patrick Conway, MD, says “meaningful expansion of data access for researchers and other users is needed to improve the public’s health.”

Dr. Conway, who recently returned to Cincinnati after working in the White House and at the Department of Health and Human Services, knows this will not be easy and it will not happen over night.

But we’re already seeing the fruits of increased access. Not just at in the work we’re doing at Cincinnati Children’s. HHS has a Community Health Data Set that offers “hundreds of measures of health care quality, cost, access and public health through a single access point.”

“The government is engaging partners … to develop applications and tools to use the data to raise awareness of community health performance, increase pressure on decision makers to improve performance and help facilitate and inform action to improve performance,” Conway writes.

For too long, information about how we’re doing in health care has been hard to come by. President Obama says we need to be more open. Dr. Conway’s commentary in today’s JAMA agrees. And so do we.

Bring it on.

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