Drowning in Health Data: Symposium Tackles Silos and Promotes Integration

CLEVELAND - The healthcare industry, along with many others, is drowning in data. From electronic medical records to Medicaid data, the volume of information continues to grow and much of it is inaccessible. Today, the Ohio Department of Health and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are co-hosting the first Ohio Health Data Statewide Symposium in Cleveland. The goal is to support the reduction of data silos and promote integration of data and collaboration among researchers and data analysts in government, non-profits, and academia in the state.

The event will draw speakers from the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation, Ohio Department of Health, and Michigan State University. In addition, panel discussions will examine key areas of research in need of data integration: chronic diseases, infant mortality and preterm births, and behavioral and physical health integration. Bill Given, PhD, Professor, Human Development Initiative at Michigan State will present a case study of his university’s successful collaboration with state agencies, local health departments, and Medicaid to foster data stewardship and their role in leading integration efforts.

“The key to solving some of our most challenging health problems may lie in the data many of our systems already hold but can’t easily share,” said Theodore E. Wymyslo, MD, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “Today’s symposium marks the beginning of a collaborative effort to make this data more accessible across various health care disciplines and ultimately improve lives.”

Current methods of sharing data between individuals and organizations are fragmented and require researchers to jump through hoops. This symposium is in response to a growing movement to share resources to maximize efforts and to benefit public health in Ohio. For example, an epidemiologist researching regions of advanced stage cancers who wants to target for health screenings has to retrieve cancer data, census and mapping information, and death certificates. The analysis of these data helps researchers determine higher risk areas and vulnerable populations – which leads to steps that improve the adequacy of care, prognoses and survival outcomes.

“Health transformation is underway in Ohio; researchers and government agencies want to do more with the information that exists,” says Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs, Case Western Reserve University. “This symposium will identify and breakdown barriers, while simultaneously bringing together those with complimentary research interests. This is an opportunity to step back and assess the landscape at the state level and redirect and coordinate our research efforts.”

The symposium was made possible through the generous support of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine’s Weatherhead Institute and Office of Strategic Initiatives.

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine is affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. case.edu/medicine.