Better Health through Data: Opportunities and Limitations of Health Data

Health data, such as race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation and, gender identity are crucial to addressing public health needs and in understanding the various backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses of beneficiaries covered by federal and state health care programs. Across Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurances, and federal delivery systems such as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Indian Health Services (IHS), and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), health data varies in completeness and usability. Several barriers that lead to limitations in health data include: privacy concerns, lack of standardized procedures or definitions, poor data disaggregation, lack of interoperability, and underfunded and understaffed public health departments. This event reviewed the importance and use of health data in addressing health disparities, the main barriers that persist in limitations to health data, and policy levers that can improve health data collection and utilization at the federal level including changes to data standards and systems, incentives and requirements, education and technical assistance, and regulation.


  • Samantha Artiga, MHSA, Vice President and Director, Racial Equity and Health Policy Program, KFF
  • Niall Brennan, MPP, Chief Analytics and Privacy Officer, Clarify Health
  • Irene Dankwa-Mullan, M.D., MPH, Chief Health Equity Officer, Deputy Chief Health Officer, Merative (formerly IBM Watson Health)
  • Elizabeth Lukanen, MPH, Deputy Director, State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC)
  • Sarah J. Dash, MPH, President and CEO, Alliance for Health Policy (moderator)

This event was made possible with support from Arnold Ventures.