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Four Takeaways from NAHDO 2018

This October, my colleagues and I attended the National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO) annual meeting in Park City, Utah. NAHDO is a national non-profit membership and educational association dedicated to improving healthcare data collection and use. NAHDO is also a co-founder and member of the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) Council, which provides leadership and technical assistance to states implementing APCDs. For more on the history of NAHDO, click here.

This year’s conference centered on balancing transparency, privacy, and quality in an age of enhanced reporting on public health information. As a follow-up to the annual meeting, I wanted to share with you some of the key takeaways:

1. Stakeholder engagement is key to achieving increased data transparency. As state agencies, hospitals, researchers, and other health data representatives embark on data transparency-related initiatives, representatives from Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington made clear the importance of having the right stakeholders involved from the start. To NAHDO attendees these stakeholders include attorneys, providers, members, state agency representatives, legislators, payers, and others with the subject matter expertise and experience to integrate and publicly share health information data.
2. Collaboration maximizes cost transparency. Collecting cost-related information from providers, and making the information accessible to health data consumers, remains a difficult task for many organizations. Although several states have worked diligently with legislators to mandate that providers supply cost-related information to state health agencies, several other states have partnered with their member, provider, and insurance communities to form work groups that collaborate in the name of making healthcare more accessible and affordable.
3. If you build it, they may not come. Building treasure troves of information for health data consumers is only beneficial if the consumers know the information exists, and are interested in using it. To help spread the word about new web-based platforms and/or tools, organizations across the nation are leveraging creative marketing strategies via Google AdWords and Facebook. Colleagues from Colorado’s Shop for Care, Maine’s CompareMaine, New Hampshire’s HealthCost, New York’s FAIR Health, and Washington’s HealthCareCompare shared their successes and challenges in making the public aware of critical healthcare information. In support of this takeaway, Andrea Clark, BerryDunn’s Senior Analytics Manager, joined colleagues from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, Washington State, and FAIR Health to speak about BerryDunn’s work helping clients develop enhanced public use healthcare data products. You can read more about that here.
4. Rally behind “The Year of Data Quality.” During the recent Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference (MESC) in Portland, Oregon, Julie Boughn—Director of CMS’ Data and Systems Group—named 2018 “The Year of Data Quality.” NAHDO attendees, in support of this mission, highlighted that consistent nation-wide file layouts, coupled with consistent field definitions across databases, could go a long way in improving data quality in health IT solutions, such as APCDs.

In sum, the annual meeting was an excellent venue for hearing from data gurus, state health information officials, and those passionate about affecting change through health data solutions. As the conference in years past was attended mostly by APCD gurus, the stakeholder audience continues to broaden to include all those who have a hand in improving citizens’ health and well-being.

Please contact me or Andrea Clark with any questions or comments.

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