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Learnings from Health Datapalooza 2020

Health data and the insights we draw from them have the potential to transform the health care industry by providing medical leaders with the evidence needed to inform decision making. At the 2020 Health Datapalooza conference, co-located this year with the National Health Policy Conference, participants engaged in rich discussions on the link between technology, data, research, and policy.

One key theme that garnered a lot of attention was the need to identify standards and methods for integrating social determinants of health (SDoH)--the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play—with data collected during clinical encounters. The capability to capture, use, and share electronic health information has improved with the widespread adoption of EHRs and yet the inclusion of data reflecting SDoH remains limited across healthcare. There is a growing recognition that access to SDoH data during the course of care would help providers to more easily address non-clinical factors that impact health such as food, housing, and transportation.

There are plenty of challenges ahead, including enabling interoperable data sharing between hospitals, ambulatory practices and community service organizations. The data must be collected in a standardized way and incorporated into electronic health records and e-care plans. The data also must be able to be shared with the entire care team, including social services and community organizations.

“My team is currently exploring ways that FHIR-enabled e-care plans can be used to facilitate interoperable information sharing between primary and specialty care and community services,” said Linda Dimitropoulos, Division Vice President of eHealth, Quality & Analytics at RTI. “By integrating SDoH insights into e-care plans, providers can identify and enable access to needed services or interventions for patients such as programs that assist with accessing healthy food, providing housing, or helping with transportation to treatment.” By attending the 2020 Health Datapalooza conference, our experts were able to network with other mission-driven individuals and highlight how we connect data to real-world health care results in our day-to-day work.

“It served as an opportunity to connect with colleagues to provide examples of our collaborative and innovative statistical approaches to the design and analysis of research studies and the application of statistical techniques to advance the health policy research enterprise”, noted Dr. Steven B Cohen, Vice President of RTI's Statistical and Data Sciences division. “We discussed our advances in data science and predictive analytics that could be harnessed to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the health care system.

For more information on how we are innovating in the fields of health IT, data science and healthcare, visit our Center for Data Science and Center for Health Care Advancement

Disclaimer: This piece was written by Linda Dimitropoulos (Vice President, eHealth, Quality and Analytics Division; Vice President, RTI Center for Health Care Advancement) and Steven Cohen (Vice President, Division for Statistical and Data Sciences) to share perspectives on a topic of interest. Expression of opinions within are those of the author or authors.