Too many barriers currently exist for data to be shared between government agencies and within the medical field, a group of top public officials said Wednesday in Washington.

The current health market rewards the wrong things. For example, if data shows a process is being duplicated or an unnecessary test is being completed, a provider gets paid less. To overcome that, the rules of market competition need to be reset to reward value over volume, said Greg Moody, director of Ohio’s Office of Health Transformation. Speaking at the Health Datapalooza conference, Moody said when Ohio Governor John Kasich took office, data existed but was in places you couldn’t get to. “We thought the starting point was health IT to unleash all that,” he said.

Also See: Burwell: Health care on threshold of big change

It’s a story that has been repeated in Philadelphia. The sharing of data, especially in health, is a huge challenge, said the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter. “There are numerous barriers to government entities trying to do the right thing,” he said. “There is an inability to share important information about health outcome and disparities.” Numerous purposeful barriers are in place to prevent the sharing of information between government agencies.”

Moody agreed, saying that in public health, there is a tradition of applying for grant funds. “We have to register for this, register for that,” he explained. “We essentially bought several things” and need to figure out how to put them together. “

Public/private collaboration

The private sector often likes to provide what they have and not necessarily what the public sector needs, Moody said. “Part of the problem is states don’t know, cities don’t know — they need to ask. What they really need is not an automated solution, what they need is to change how they do business. That’s a very different kind of process. If you don’t do the first part, you get a project management environment where IT takes over and fills in gaps.”

Looking at the building of Ohio’s state-run public health care exchange, Moody pointed to the rushed timeline of eight months. That forced Ohio to focus on core functions and ignoring things that were not required for operation. “We have to do a better job knowing what we want to do and then asking the question, ‘How can you help us?’”

But it is important vendors do not overpromise, added William Hazel Jr., M.D., Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Hazel said he knows how projects tend to be overpromised. “I encourage you to refuse, figure out how we can inject competition into the process,” he said. “Be honest with legislators and us.”

The panel moderator, Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for Health IT, ended the panel by explaining there is a lot of power in data. “Taking advantage of bright minds, we can solve some basic needs of people,” she said.

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