Healthcare Data as Public Good

Jon Goldin

Jon Goldin

Chief Legal Officer, Pearl Health

During the Covid 19 pandemic, health started to seem more like a public good than it had historically, as the health of individuals became more interdependent with that of other community members. As we move into the third year of the pandemic, the extent of the interdependence of our health going forward may be a subject for debate, but what has become plain is the importance of healthcare data as a public good, particularly when efforts to promote equitable access to care are considered.1

What has become plain is the importance of healthcare data as a public good, particularly when efforts to promote equitable access to care are considered.

At a recent conference, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure explained that health equity depends on data connectivity.2 Significant thought leaders in healthcare have cited data gaps as meaningful drivers of disproportionately poor outcomes for patients of color during the pandemic.3 The relatively free flow of properly standardized data gives rise to advances in care and the equitable distribution of the fruits of those advances. As quality, availability and interoperability improve, however, data become less excludable and less rivalrous, stripping away rent-seeking profits that custodians can enjoy when data are more fragmented and inaccessible.

Pearl salutes the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reaffirming its commitment to health equity and recognizing that data integrity and flow are essential for identifying, measuring and remediating health disparities. Gathering and synthesizing data that empowers primary care providers to deliver better, more equitable care is critical to our nation’s future health. Moreover, creating clear, actionable signals from that data and, where clinically appropriate, automating certain tasks, will relieve burdens placed on providers, especially those caring for underserved communities. We strive to democratize access to value in healthcare. And, consistent with how proponents of democratization view information in many other contexts, we are data evangelists.