Wednesday, August 21, 2013

7 Ways Data Sharing Can Make Your Organization Stronger

Sharing data with your community
can provide tangible benefits for your organization.

Photo © Booth and Alexandra Booth

We hear a lot about data these days: big data, open data, proprietary data, market data, metadata.

But we don't hear a lot about data sharing. At least not in business or nonprofit circles.

Data sharing is fairly common among university and research institutions who see their data as a public asset. Federal, state, and local governments have begun to step up and release useful data sets. But beyond institutional walls, there is still widespread reticence against letting anyone outside the organization have access to "our" data.

So why would you, as a private company or nonprofit, want to share your data?

1. It makes your data more valuable. 

Your data is just that: your data. By adding your data to others', a fuller picture emerges of what is really happening in your market, industry, or community. This is true whether you formally "pool" your data into a data portal, or simply compare your data against other data sets.

2. It promotes collaboration.

Data sharing helps you choose partners wisely. You're a business owner, and until you sought out that specific data set, you did not realize that Company X had the potential to be an excellent strategic partner. You're a nonprofit executive director just beginning to realize the power of collective impact. By opening up your data, you can more easily answer the question, "Who else is working in this field?"

3. It promotes innovation.

Building 20 at MIT became well-known as an incubator for innovation. Educators and researchers from disparate fields occupied the space, and in the natural course of their workday, they bumped into each other. Through conversations and generally taking an interest in one another, new ideas sprang forth, ideas which may not have come about otherwise.

The same can occur when you share your data. You may inadvertently generate a new app, a new insight, or a new way of looking at the world because you generously made your data available to all.

4. It demonstrates your organization's transparency. 

Every organization has a level of accountability. Businesses must be accountable to their shareholders and consumers; nonprofits must be accountable to their donors and constituents. All must be accountable to their community.

By willingly sharing your data with the community at large, you demonstrate that you are willing to be accountable for your organization's strengths, you are willing to accept responsibility for areas that need improvement, and you are open to being vulnerable to both praise and criticism. All of these actions help to build trust.

5. It enlarges your worldview. 

When you're the only one looking at your data, you can only see things from your point of view. By exposing your data to the rest of the world, you invite comment--and insight. Viewers outside your organization bring their own experience to your data, and may be able to give you a new perspective that might never have been realized had the data been kept internal.

6. It's a two-way street.

Data sharing begets data sharing.Your courage in stepping out will invite others to do the same.

7. It makes things happen.

Data sharing doesn't have to be passive. Host a hackathon to build that elusive app you've been putting off for months. Sponsor a data visualization contest around your data. Tell the data viz team the concept you're trying to express, and let them have a go at it. Design an event that matches creativity to a legitimate need and see what emerges. If nothing else, you've built goodwill and had fun in the process.

We're not suggesting that you release all of your data. Or confidential data. Just data that could benefit the community as a whole. And of course you must employ some safeguards. In a future post, we'll give you some guidelines on how to cleanse and de-identify your data, so that you can share your data with confidence.

Have a specific question about making your data accessible? Contact us at

Or visit to sign up for a Community Data Portal webinar. (Next one is tomorrow, August 22 at 3:00 pm ET. Click here to register.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Study: Greater Cincinnati's Ability to Meet Demand for Primary Care Physicians

Greater Cincinnati's current and projected (2017)
need for
primary care physicians
A new study has found that Greater Cincinnati does not have enough primary care physicians to meet current demand, and that this deficit could increase in the next five years as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.

The study was commissioned by the Executive Stakeholders' Council and was published by the Health Collaborative. Jené Grandmont, Health Informatics Specialist at HealthLandscape, is the study's coauthor.


The study covered the following nine counties: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren counties in Ohio, and Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties in Kentucky. Its goals were threefold:
  • To determine the number of primary care physicians practicing in the nine counties named above
  • To evaluate the potential need for primary care physicians currently and in five years
  • To make recommendations for the region to meet any needs that were identified


The study conservatively estimates that Greater Cincinnati needs 200 more primary care physicians to meet current demand and, unless the need is addressed, will require 250 by 2017. The study defined primary care physicians as "family medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians and general practice physicians (who have no specialty training beyond internship) serving the adult population."

The study also noted:
  • Physician deficits vary by county.
  • The number of Medicaid recipients will increase by 25 percent throughout the study area if both Ohio and Kentucky expand Medicaid coverage.
  • Demand for primary care among formerly uninsured adults will dramatically increase as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.
  • Greater Cincinnati faces issues similar to other communities nationwide in terms of meeting demand for primary care physicians. Challenges include:
    • Primary care physicians are not compensated as highly as specialty physicians.
    • Fewer primary care physicians practice in rural and central city areas.
    • There is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity among primary care physicians.
    • Many current primary care physicians will retire in the next five to ten years.
Greater Cincinnati's primary care physician deficit based on Health and Human Services'
desired ratio of 89 primary care physicians per 100,000 adults.


The study makes detailed, practical recommendations to improve primary care delivery in Greater Cincinnati. Top-level recommendations are:
  • Strengthen the current primary care base.
  • Promote community-wide adoption of the patient-centered medical home concept. (A patient-centered medical home provides safe, accessible, comprehensive, accessible, coordinated patient-centered care.)
  • Redouble Greater Cincinnati's efforts to recruit new primary care physicians and advanced-practice professionals (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) to the region.
  • Continue to expand use of electronic health information.
  • Encourage the establishment of collective impact metrics, so progress can be measured over time.
Click here to download the full study. Visit the Health Collaborative's site for other study links and resources.

Slides published courtesy of the Health Collaborative.

Related Posts:

Monday, August 5, 2013

UDS Mapper: Another Great Community Health Data Source

National Health Center Week Banner

In honor of National Health Center Week, we're highlighting the UDS Mapper, a tool we developed on behalf of the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Robert Graham Center. Although the UDS Mapper is intended specifically for the use of community health centers, it's a great data source for anyone interested in community health.

Community health centers were started in 1965 to provide primary care and preventive health services to persons with little access to healthcare. Although there were only a few centers at the program's inception, today there are more than 1,200 community health centers and look-alikes (sites that provide community health care services but are not federally funded). They provide care to more than 22 million people who are primarily low-income or part of underserved communities such as migrant workers and those who are experiencing homelessness.

Because most community health centers are federally funded, they have stringent data reporting requirements. They are required to submit data to the Uniform Data System (UDS) annually. Data are collected about:
  • Patient characteristics (including age, gender, race, ethnicity, income level, third-party insurance source)
  • Special population groups (individuals experiencing homelessness, migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their family members)
  • Patients receiving prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum care
  • Newborn infants
  • Health center staffing
  • Clinical indicators
  • Services provided
  • Utilization rates
  • Costs
  • Revenues
The UDS Mapper displays UDS data at the ZCTA level, and is free to use. It also has other useful features including:
  • Ability to map drive times within a 50-mile radius
  • Ability to map service areas
  • Incorporation into the HealthLandscape platform, which enables users to access HealthLandscape's Community HealthView data library and QuickThemes and QuickGeocodes tools.
For free UDS Mapper training, sign up via

For free HealthLandscape training, sign up using the links below.
Thank you, community health centers, for providing needed services to so many!

Sources: and, accessed August 5, 2013.