Data Sharing and the Law: Overcoming Healthcare Sector Barriers to Sharing Data on SDOH

Prepared on behalf of the University of California, San Francisco, Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Hospitals, health plans and other organizations in the healthcare system increasingly recognize that the health of patients depends not only on medical interventions, but also on social ones. Under a social determinants of health (SDOH) model, care may involve linking patients to services that are not provided by healthcare providers. Meaningfully integrating social risk screening and social interventions into healthcare delivery programs requires overcoming new challenges, including funding social services interventions and establishing linkages between healthcare providers and community-based organizations (CBOs).

Such data sharing can, however, be challenging—in part because the many privacy laws and regulations at issue were not written with an intersectoral SDOH model in mind. Additionally, healthcare organizations interested in an SDOH model may not be aware of all the privacy laws that apply to their proposed data sharing efforts.

In “Data Sharing and the Law: Overcoming Healthcare Sector Barriers to Sharing Data on Social Determinants,” a new report prepared with support from SIREN and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Manatt Health examines the circumstances in which healthcare organizations can exchange personal information outside the healthcare sector in compliance with federal and state law. The report explains how statutes and regulations may be applied to four use cases and provides a framework that can be used to approach similar data sharing questions under other scenarios. The paper concludes with action steps that healthcare organizations investing in models of care that involve intersectoral data sharing can take to address legal challenges posed by privacy laws.



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