Additional Resources

 

Health Information and Data Sharing

Building healthy communities requires access to relevant data from multiple sectors, including public health, health care, schools, human services, housing and law enforcement. Data are essential for identifying health threats, designing interventions, coordinating care, measuring what works and planning for policy, systems and environmental change.

Data Sharing Challenges

  • Opportunities are missed to use and share electronic data to improve the health of communities, promote wellness, address social determinants of health and increase health equity.
  • A complex legal landscape, and lack of knowledge and training in law, result in actual and perceived barriers to data collection, use, and sharing.
  • Some public health departments fail to designate themselves as hybrids under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, even though hybrid designation may reduce exposure to liability, facilitate sharing of meaningful data among sectors, and simplify release of data to the public.
  • Privacy protection and regulatory compliance programs, policies, and organizational cultures unnecessarily “lock-down” access to data; fail to recognize the “big picture” community health value of data sharing; and may not realize public health’s unique status, which often makes it legal to share identifiable data for public health purposes.
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    Network Resources

    To help health agencies, organizations and collaboratives navigate laws and regulations to effectively use data in support of community health, the Network has an extensive collection of resources, trainings and tools.

    De-identification Toolkit

    The De-identification Toolkit provides multiple tools and resources to address legal and practical considerations in using and sharing de-identified data and is intended for a broad audience of health officials, privacy officers, public health practitioners, data managers and their attorneys.

    The toolkit is available at:  networkforphl.org/deidentification

    Data and Federal Privacy Law Snapshots

    This collection of 22 “snapshots” provides an overview of the basic requirements of different federal data protection laws, including FERPA and HIPAA, and is intended to help agencies and organizations better understand legal protections associated with datasets collected by federal agencies or as part of a federally funded program like Medicaid and WIC.

    The snapshots are available at:  networkforphl.org/privacysnapshots

    HIPAA Hybrid Toolkit

    To improve important data sharing, health departments that elected to be fully covered by HIPAA should re-evaluate the option to generally restrict HIPAA to only those programs that are required under law to comply with HIPAA. The Hybrid Toolkit includes legal, policy and practical guidance to understand and implement HIPAA’s hybrid entity option.

    The toolkit is available at: networkforphl.org/HIPAAhybrid