Coronavirus BRIEFING

The Crucial Role of Data Sharing in Optimizing Patient Care

A new report from Optum, the pharmacy benefit manager and care services unit of UnitedHealth Group, examines the crucial role of data sharing in optimizing patient care. As Optum observed, “The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the idea that optimized care for patients can be achieved through communication, collaboration, and data sharing across health care organizations. But this linkage has been otherwise difficult to accomplish, as health care organizations operate with different standards for data, and privacy concerns make patients apprehensive about sharing their personal medical history.

“While the crisis has certainly stressed the health care system, it has also accelerated opportunities for collaboration, data sharing, and transparency. From the explosion in the use of virtual care to more widespread information sharing between and within health care organizations, a spirit of collaboration has gained renewed momentum and energy.”

The Optum report cites a 2019 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of health care professionals that found that eighty-six percent of survey respondents agreed on some level that significant reform can be achieved through strategic and operational alliances using shared data and agreed-on outcomes and decision-making criteria, with 48 percent saying they strongly agree and 38% saying they somewhat agree. Similarly, 84 percent agreed on some level that increased data sharing between health care organizations can have a significant improvement on health care reform efforts, with 51 percent strongly agreeing and 33 percent somewhat agreeing.