Connection and cooperation among health related sectors is essential for building a Culture of Health, where health is a fundamental and guiding social value and everybody has the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is working to foster alignment among health care, public health and other community systems to address the multiple determinants of health and improve the health of communities. To that end, RWJF is supporting number of strategies, including discovering and disseminating well-developed, sustainable examples of local sector alignment; promoting health care organizations’ role in community health improvement; and fostering multi-sector data and information sharing to improve community health. Its work in this area is focused on identifying challenges and opportunities, highlighting promising and innovative approaches, and driving the development and spread of innovations. In order to highlight the challenges and opportunities in connecting information systems and sharing data across sectors, RWJF launched Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH).

DASH aims to support community collaborations in their efforts to:

  • Address locally determined problems or goals associated with better community health,
  • Enhance communities’ ability to plan, make decisions, implement health improvement activities through sharing data and information in a sustainable way
  • Identify methods, models, and lessons that can be applied locally and shared with other communities who wish to improve their ability to share data and information across sectors

DASH is aligned with several RWJF supported strategies to bridge health and health care. In the fall of 2014, RWJF launched the Data for Health initiative where an advisory committee hosted a series of “Learning What Works” events in five cities across the country. The Data for Health initiative explored how data can be collected, shared, protected and translated in ways that are useful to individuals, organizations and communities. Building upon what they heard from communities during these “listening sessions,” the advisory committee members developed findings and recommendations for how to help communities and U.S. health leaders better harness data to help build a Culture of Health. DASH will leverage the barriers and recommendations identified during the listening sessions to guide the work of the grantee collaborations, contribute to this developing body of knowledge and advance this emerging field.