Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched a nationwide initiative that seeks to explore how information and data can be harnessed to help people lead healthier lives and build a culture of health.

Called Data for Health, the effort is being led by an advisory committee of health IT experts co-chaired by David Ross, director of the Public Health Informatics Institute, and Ivor Horn, M.D., medical director of the Center for Diversity and Health Equity at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Over the next few months, the advisory committee will host a series of “Learning What Works” events in five cities—Philadelphia, Phoenix, Des Moines, San Francisco, and Charleston, S.C.—to “hear from local leaders, residents, and professionals from a wide range of sectors on what health information is important to them and how they might use it to help people lead healthier lives and improve health in their communities.” In addition, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will participate in all five of the listening sessions.

Among the issues that will be explored are: how data should be collected, shared, used and protected in ways that are meaningful to individuals and help providers and communities make a measurable impact on improving health and well-being. “Finding out what problems people want to solve and what health information they need to help solve these problems will help us better understand how to design the infrastructure for collecting, sharing, and protecting data in ways that work best for communities across the country,” said Ross in a written statement.

Based on what is learned from these listening sessions, the advisory committee will issue a report and recommendations in early 2015.

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