Data-Driven Healthcare
Published August 12, 2021

How Data and Technology Can Advance Health Equity


The past year and a half challenged us in ways we couldn’t have imagined, including a spotlight on the unconscionable health disparities across our nation. We all know these disparities aren’t new, but right now, we have an opportunity to reimagine our healthcare system—to build one that is equitable, fueled by a seamless exchange of data and insights and built to empower patients to proactively manage their care.

Creating an interoperable healthcare system

Currently, our health information doesn’t move as quickly or as easily as we do. When we find a new doctor, they may have a limited view of our health history, often reliant upon what we remember to include on a new patient form. To receive quality care, providers need a comprehensive look at a patient’s care history, and patients deserve a more integrated, seamless experience.

This idea of being able to move our health information with us and easily share it across the care system is known as interoperability. We know that when health data becomes standardized and shareable—safely and securely—healthcare improves. Data has to reflect the whole person, not just a lab result or your name and age. Across the industry, hundreds of organizations are already working together to bring this vision to life.

If you’re a patient, interoperability is one way to drive more personalized, higher quality and more affordable care. If you’re a provider, this is one way to help you see the bigger picture of a patient’s care journey and how you can help continue to deliver positive patient experiences. And, as I recently shared in my keynote address at the 2021 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, an interoperable healthcare system can help drive health equity.

Using data to reduce disparities

Communities of color today account for just 40% of the U.S. population, but they bear a disproportionate burden of preventable disease, disability and death.

This unacceptable reality is the impetus for our National Health Equity Strategy, an ongoing commitment to improve health outcomes for people of color. While Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have made great strides in addressing racial health disparities in our local communities, there is so much more to be done.

This work, as I see it, is inextricably linked to interoperability and the availability and appropriate exchange of data. To address health disparities, we need a complete and accurate picture of a person’s health.

Having access to the right data and greater standardization will allow payers and providers to:

  • Accurately quantify the disparities that exist, so we can address them more directly
  • Drive the right interventions for the right people at the right time
  • Actively lean into new and long-standing relationships with community organizations to address root causes of inequities
  • Advocate for public policies at the state and federal level to improve access to health coverage

The future of healthcare must be health equity

My vision for the future of healthcare is a completely reimagined system: one that is more integrated, affordable, secure and seamless for patients and providers and, above all, equitable. To get there, we need all players in the healthcare system working together, toward a lasting future that supports the health of all Americans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

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