Health Data: Are You with the Sharers or the Hoarders?

Jonathan Bush | LinkedIn Blog | April 24, 2014

My former business partner Todd Park is pretty busy these days as Chief Technology Officer of the U.S., setting data free through President Obama’s Open Data Initiatives. A passionate believer in the power of information, Todd embraces the idea that by putting data out into the public domain, we create the potential for entrepreneurs and innovators to transform that data into products and jobs.

He’s not alone. This approach has sparked innovation across information categories, such as weather (Weather Channel) and global positioning (Waze), and is now being rolled out in a variety of sectors, from energy to education. All of these initiatives abide by a simple, yet powerful creed: Information shared transparently is a good thing; information closed off or hoarded is bad.

I’m with the sharers. In the health care system, open data sharing can improve patient care at two critical levels: At the health care provider level, open data exchange can ensure that each caregiver receives the right information at the right time to deliver the best care – no matter who employs them or which technology platform they are on. At the broader industry level, sharing information in aggregate can inform care for large patient populations. Both are critical to improving quality and reducing the cost of health care in this country; yet neither is the operational norm among health systems today.

This begs the question: Is there a societal obligation to share data broadly in health care?...