Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Launches Data for Health Initiative

Karen DeSalvo

By Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.

On October 16, 2014, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched an initiative to assess how data can be used to improve health in our country. Data for Health seeks to explore how information and data can be harnessed to help people lead healthier lives and build a culture of health.

Funded and conceptualized by RWJF, this initiative is led by an advisory committee of respected leaders in health information technology (IT), who will host a series of “Learning What Works” events in five cities throughout the rest of the year to hear from local leaders, residents, and professionals from a wide range of sectors on what health information is important to them and how they might use it to help people lead healthier lives and improve health in their communities.

These listening sessions will be held in:

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • San Francisco, California
  • Des Moines, Iowa

RWJF recognizes that to build a Culture of Health, it will take collective action by many in this country. I commend and thank RWJF for its leadership to get this exciting initiative off the ground. Throughout its history, RWJF has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. They have a unique capacity and mission to address the most pressing health and health care issues facing our society. They have aptly identified health IT and learning about how people want to access, use and protect data to lead healthier lives as an area of interest, and I am honored to be able to participate in the listening sessions.

RWJF is leaning forward to listen to the country, and I am happy to lean in with them. I am looking forward to hearing from residents, city planners, public health departments, school districts, local businesses, housing and community developers, researchers and scientists, consumers, payers, state and local leaders, and other thought leaders in these communities about what information matters to them.

Since becoming National Coordinator in January, I have traveled to and heard from people across the county share their successes and challenges, and where their communities are along the health IT spectrum. Through these insightful discussions, I have gained a better understanding of how diverse this nation is along that spectrum, and that it is our role at ONC to set federal policies that encourage innovation to dramatically improve our care delivery system without leaving anyone behind.

By attending these Data for Health sessions, I look forward to hearing and learning even more about how communities envision health IT to advance the public’s wherever people live, work, learn or play, and how health IT can help drive this vision forward.

This post was originally published on the Health IT Buzz and is syndicated here with permission.