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Data Sharing in Healthcare: What Does It Mean for You?

Written by Rose Torrento on Tuesday, July 05, 2016 Posted in Industry News

Data Sharing in Healthcare: What Does It Mean for You?

"You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data." - Daniel Keys Moran, American computer programmer and science fiction writer

In this digitally-driven world, every industry relies on data — whether it's consumer, inventory, behavioral, or financial. We use it to make important decisions that affect businesses, citizens, and governments.

Even so, the healthcare industry has been starkly lagging when it comes to this new trend. Many private healthcare organizations are still holding out on publicly providing the information their potential patients want to see. And the concerns of these organizations' decision-makers are more than the fear of negative reactions or backlash; compiling and preparing this data is an arduous and labor-intensive process.

Transparency and controversy

According to NPR's health news section, Shots, the federal government started releasing data on a yearly basis in 2014. In the article, Niall Brennan, chief data officer at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says the data releases began fairly modestly with information on

  • differences in Medicare spending among states and counties,
  • discharges at hospitals, and
  • and how drugs are prescribed in the Medicare program.

As time has passed, the data collected has expanded to include information on skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and Sunshine Act Open Payments data. The government has also released more controversial information on how much Medicare pays physicians.

Public response and media coverage were positive with relation to the move to digitization, though not always with regard to data implications. Ultimately, data sharing enables the government to collaborate more effectively with healthcare organizations to bring about productive changes for the good of the public. In the long run, the positive benefits will hopefully outweigh the negative.


Though there is reluctance to adopt the practice, the benefits are clear and the pressure is on. At the seventh annual gathering of a conference held in Washington, D.C., called Health Datapalooza, attendees were encouraged to discuss the benefits and implications of bringing more openness to the healthcare industry.

Conference organizers invited leaders of healthcare entities to discuss and share the latest and greatest applications of data in healthcare.

We know what this new era of data sharing could mean for healthcare organizations across the country: a smattering of public concern over unflattering practices juxtaposed against the far more positive result of greater knowledge, collaboration, and rapid healthcare reform. But what does it mean for nurses?

At this point, it's hard to say, but we can feel confident that it will mean the general public will have a keener view into the day-to-day goings on of nursing staffers, for better or for worse. It could mean that adjustments are made to how nurses are scheduled and retained, how internal processes are laid out, and how pay is managed.

The implications are still very much unknown. What we do know is that every other industry that has leveraged the use of data to make decisions and build bridges has steeply benefited from the practice. Let's hope we will see the same result in the healthcare industry!

At HPC, we are here to help you navigate the changing world of nursing. Contact us online or give us a call at (888) 299-9800 for resources and questions!

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.