By Teagan Kuruna, Research Writer, and Cortney Bruno, Program Assistant for Publication and Dissemination

Cross-sector data sharing is lauded as an integral part of complex care. Sharing data between multiple sectors—such as behavioral health, medical, criminal justice, housing, and education—seems like a straightforward way to understand people’s complex health and social needs and provide whole-person care. In practice, however, sharing data isn’t always so simple.

Most organizations that want to share data have questions somewhere along the way—whether their concerns are about building trusting relationships, understanding legal and regulatory guidelines, or effectively using the data to better serve individuals and attract resources to the program. With support from the Aetna Foundation, the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs produced a series of webinars and briefs to discuss each of these crucial aspects of sharing data.

“Figuring out how to share data with organizations outside of a single field can be perplexing,” said Dawn Wiest, Director of Action Research and Evaluation at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and lead on this project. “We put this series together to help demystify some of the elements that make cross-sector data sharing successful.”

This series draws on the experiences of organizations across the country to explore strategies for creating cross-sector data collaborations. These valuable insights came from AllianceChicago, Camden Coalition, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Iowa City Police Department, Providence Health and Services Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, San Diego Fire-Rescue, and Trenton Health Team.

The webinars and briefs cover these topics:

Building trust for cross-sector data collaboration explores ways to create and strengthen data partnerships. Strategies include identifying shared needs, finding internal champions, building on existing partnerships, understanding that building collaborative relationships takes time, tailoring communication for the appropriate audience, and adapting and implementing existing technology to meet organizations’ needs.

Navigating legal parameters for cross-sector data collaboration provides examples of how organizations addressed legal and regulatory concerns about sharing data. Approaches include creating easy-to-use tools to determine who has access to which data, creating adaptable yet secure data sharing agreements, and engaging the leadership and legal teams of the organizations involved.

Cross-sector data in action highlights ways that cross-sector data can guide the development of innovative initiatives to improve people’s lives. Examples include using data to inform a community needs assessment, build the case for a city-wide Housing First initiative, and guide a complex care intervention that begins in a county jail.

These briefs and webinars are designed to be useful, practical resources for groups in all stages of the data sharing process. Learn more about using data with these resources from the Camden Coalition and the National Center.

Explore our cross-sector data sharing series