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Health Information and Data Sharing

Using Health Data to Address Childhood Asthma

February 20, 2019


In 2019, the Network for Public Health Law will be sharing stories of innovative, collaborative projects and initiatives aimed at improving the health of communities. These projects and initiatives are, at their core, strong collaborations between those who work in health, law, policy, philanthropy, advocacy and other sectors.

Unleashing the Power of Data for Community Health

Building healthy communities requires access to relevant data from multiple sectors, including public health, health care, education, human services, housing and law enforcement. Data are essential for identifying health threats, designing interventions, coordinating care, measuring what works and planning for policy, systems and environment change.

Increased data sharing also brings an increased need for agencies, institutions and organizations to protect the integrity and privacy of this information and maintain community trust. Additionally, a general lack of understanding about law that governs the use and sharing of data creates obstacles to innovation. 

In 2017, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Network for Public Health Law and the de Beaumont Foundation developed a report, Using Electronic Health Data for Community Health, with use cases illustrating how electronic health data could be used in efforts to reduce childhood asthma.

Asthma is often the result of poor housing conditions and air pollution; data from schools, health care systems and public health agencies can be used to identify clusters of respiratory illness. The use cases cover different data applications that are key to addressing childhood asthma as well as important information about what is permissible under laws that govern health data.

In 2019, project partners will work with local health agencies on specific data sharing use cases to increase the capacity of these local agencies. The project aims to enable agencies to develop and accelerate the adoption of innovative approaches for sharing data to improve the health of their communities.

Building the Capacity of Those Working to Advance Health

Multi-sector data that are locally relevant are critical to both public health and community partners in the effort to improve the health of individuals and families. The Network for Public Health Law will host a summit in Plymouth, MI in October 2019 to bring  together key stakeholders to explore practical, in-depth data sharing strategies to improve community health.

To learn more about the projects described above, as well as the upcoming summit, contact Ann Phi-Wendt at