March 5, 2015 — Last week at Harvard Kennedy School, we hosted a roundtable of several dozen healthcare leaders to discuss how better use of data can lead to improved care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

By conversation’s end, leaders from a dozen public and private sector organizations pledged a number of tangible steps to make data more open and to use it to keep people healthy. As we have said previously, data can be thought of as infrastructure and as “fuel” for new technology-enabled products and services. In health care specifically, one important use of data will be by population health management organizations to coordinate care and proactively keep people from getting sick.

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell’s recent “Better, Smarter, Healthier” call to action boldly sets a goal to move 50 percent of Medicare payments from fee-for-service toward value-based alternatives by 2018, and with it, usher in an era of better care coordination and quality improvement.

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