The dangers of being sucked into a jet engine
One major hurdle for local public health mission capacity is the limited availability, granularity and timeliness of data collected by federal agencies. Reflecting the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative, federal agencies are actively working to expand access to numerous data types and sources, including vital and health statistics data. At the behest of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) was tasked with developing a measurement framework for community health and well-being to help align federal initiatives and investment in a way that supports communities.
All In: Data for Community Health colleagues Alison Rein and Peter Eckart joined DASH grantee Amy Laurent (Public Health Seattle & King County), DASH Advisor Aaron Truchill and 100 stakeholder leaders for an all-day meeting on a new framework for measuring community health and well-being. This framework is based on a comprehensive environmental scan of existing domains and indicators, and represents a third version of the Committee’s work to categorize the complex world of social determinants. Participants in the meeting reviewed the content of the environmental scan, considered the current version of the Framework for Domains and Indicators, and discussed plans for V4 of the framework. In the end, the assembled members of the NCVHS decided to continue work on the framework by convening additional federal agencies and private and non-profit leaders.
DASH Co-Director Peter Eckart presented on the “Current Reality and Desired Future” of multi-sector data sharing efforts, discussing how All In: Data for Community Health is catalyzing efforts to support deeper integration of community and healthcare data. Panelists reflected that, while it is difficult to get federal data on social determinants at a very local level, issues such as establishing a culture of data use and how organizations change to reflect data use are as important as the data itself. Reporting on the readiness of DASH grantees to share data, Eckart said that DASH and CHP grantees are moving from coalition-building to data sharing, and that successful projects are continuously engaging their community partners in the rollout of their data systems.
While the meeting ended with a commitment to keep meeting and working to expand the usefulness of federal data for mutli-sector community uses, participants acknowledge that there are deep structural barriers in opening access to federal data. Kevin Barnett from the Public Health Institute noted that embracing “a comprehensive ecological model” of health that reflects the social determinants represents a challenge to the siloed, single-issue nature of federal departmental spending. Others noted that current clinical systems are still a long way from fully representing the social data that many in communities are seeking, noting that the prevailing standard for healthcare information systems (the ICD-10) has a code for being sucked into a jet engine (V9733XA) but none for food insecurity or other social determinants.
All In will continue to monitor and participate in these federal conversations. For more information, contact Peter Eckart.