Taking a Deeper Dive: Getting to Yes on Privacy and Confidentiality

In times of shrinking budgets and increasing need, it is imperative that health and human service providers deliver efficient and cost-effective public services. Through the creation of new service delivery models centered on data integration and systems interoperability, providers can to reduce service delivery costs and improve outcomes.

By organizing and sharing siloed data, agencies are able to improve case management for individuals and families and strengthen research and analyses to solve systemic, structural challenges. The goal is to bring together, in one place, the data that enables providers to answer questions about the efficacy of the programs used to support clients. 

With so much to be gained from data sharing and interoperability, why is it so hard to achieve? What are the “blockers” that prevent agencies from effectively sharing information?

One of the most common reasons agencies are reluctant to share data is risk: Owners guard their data closely and are hesitant to share it with others, particularly when it comes to sharing sensitive, personally identified information. Data owners fear the risk of a data breach or running afoul of privacy and confidentiality laws.  Lawyers, charged with protecting their client agencies, often find it easier to “just say no.”

If we, as practitioners, operate from a core belief that data should be gathered and shared to promote public well-being, the critical question to ask and answer is: How do we get to “yes”?

That will be the subject of a webinar presented by the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC) at noon Eastern on Friday Sept. 14, 2018. It’s titled “Getting to Yes on Privacy and Confidentiality” and will feature a panel of nationally recognized subject-matter experts. Learn more about the webinar, and register now!

To achieve the responsible exchange of information, first and foremost there must be a shared understanding that data-sharing is consistent with federal and state legal principles and can be established without compromising individual privacy. Secure data-sharing systems can be designed to maximize appropriate access to data and transparency, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.

Building trust among those who share data and those who consume the information is vitally important to the success of any interoperability program. A culture of trust starts with clarity about what data is being shared, for what purpose, and how data-sharing will improve service-delivery outcomes.  Data owners need to clearly understand how their data will be used, and user groups need to be able to trust the accuracy of the data they consume.

Tools such as data-sharing agreements, memoranda of understanding (MOUs), data use agreements, and use cases have been successfully utilized to create formal processes and standards of practice around data-sharing.

This is not a new frontier. Numerous agencies have tackled this challenge, some with high degrees of success. At Stewards of Change Institute, our goal is to lift up and amplify success stories so that these models can be emulated. Through SOCI’s National Interoperability Collaborative, we are launching the NIC Collaboration and Communication Hub; an interactive platform to share what works and to lean on and learn from each other, regardless of where we are on the interoperability journey. Please take a look and dive in with your own thoughts and insights. If you have ideas regarding the content of the “Getting to Yes” webinar, we want to hear those, too. Join today the discussion around Privacy and Confidentiality, on the NIC Hub!

Again, the webinar begins at noon Eastern on Sept. 14, 2018. Please join us to explore this important topic in detail. Our presenters for the session – and then a continuation of Q&A and dialogue on the NIC Hub – will be:

Barbara Cohn, who takes the optimistic view that policy and legal issues are solvable and perceived obstacles can be overcome. Barb will share her experience using legal and policy analysis to challenge entrenched thinking by unearthing helpful provisions and offering new interpretations and applications of existing laws – all the while, respecting and safeguarding clients’ interests as protected under the law.  Barb knows it can be done, because she’s done it (twice!), when she was the Chief Data Officer for New York State and in the City of New York’s implementation of HHS-Connect.

Carrie Hoff, who understands that whether implementing a new technology or promoting a new business practice, the bottom line is changing human behavior. Easy, right? Carrie has been bobbing and weaving through a maze of reactions encountered along the journey of launching a new computer system that reduces self-imposed boundaries. She’ll share insights and practical tips she’s learned while leading a paradigm shift in the way services are delivered in San Diego County.

Jennifer Bernstein, who is a national expert on health information and data-sharing initiatives. As the Deputy Director for the Network for Public Health Law’s Mid-States Region, Jennifer provides guidance to organizations on the interplay between state and federal laws related to information-sharing and interoperability. Jennifer will share her perspective, along with specific examples, of how the law can be used as a tool for success.

“Getting to Yes on Privacy and Confidentiality” is the first in NIC’s series of Deeper Dive “webinar-plus” events. These presentations are designed to go beyond the traditional webinar format by leveraging the NIC Hub as a go-to place to ask questions, offer insights, and engage in discussions that will extend the learning and jump-start ongoing conversations with colleagues.

Learn more and register for the webinar. Don’t wait for Sept. 14 to have your voice heard! Join today the discussion around Privacy and Confidentiality, on the NIC Hub! Let us know what burning questions you have for our panelists and/or share your own stories of success, failure and everything in-between.

Check out the Stewards of Change Institute’s work around confidentiality, privacy, and security.



Ivy Pool

Ivy Pool is a public-sector management consultant, currently advising non-profits and government agencies on improving outcomes for underserved populations. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Previously, Ivy served in the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as the Program Director for the New York State Integrated Eligibility System, a $500 million program to modernize and streamline access to health and human service programs. During New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, Ivy served as the Executive Director for HHS-Connect, a nationally recognized program that established interoperability and shared case management among 12 city agencies to enable more efficient and effective service delivery. Ivy held several other positions in NYC government, including at the Department for Information Technology and Telecommunications and the Department for Citywide Administrative Services. She earned a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU and an undergraduate degree from Columbia University. Ivy was recently elected to a four-year term as a Councilwoman in the New Castle, NY, where she lives with her husband and two children.