We recently spoke with Shivonne Laird, System Director of Community Health Impact at Bon Secours Mercy Health about the organization’s new Community Health Data Hub.

The new public-facing website was designed to help community organizations, residents, and local governments to access data to understand health conditions, disparities, and the social impacts that are vital to driving systemic change.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Shivonne:

Q: Where did the idea for the new community health data hub come from?

A: Bon Secours Mercy Health went through a merger in 2018 which prompted the creation of the community health team. When you create a new department, there’s always the work of getting operationally started. Then after a while, it’s time to make sure the operations are really what we need and accomplishing what we want them to accomplish. That is where this idea for a comprehensive data strategy, both internal and external comes from for us. Part of that external data strategy was the idea for the community health data hub. It was something that we had always wanted to do because we’re always partnering with community-based organizations and with residents. We do that well and often – which creates the need for data sharing. This was an opportunity to share some information with them to make collaboration even easier.

Q: You went through a few iterations of this idea before ultimately arriving at making it transparent and open to the public. How did you make that decision?

A: Bon Secours Mercy Health is always trying to find ways to support the communities that we serve. We saw this as an opportunity to do that. There was an intentional decision that we shouldn’t put data behind a paywall but rather that the information should be publicly available. It’s almost like a data sovereignty decision, right? A lot of times our community partners or our partners locally will ask us for data. We have access to certain information and wanted to share it. The idea was to take out the middleman and make this data available to them directly so that they can make decisions.

Q:  As you were rolling this data hub out, who did you envision as your target audience? Who did you want to make sure was using the platform?

A: I envision it to be various sets of stakeholders and potential partners within the communities. If we think about an ecological model of health within any given region, so you’ve got the individual, you’ve got their household, you’ve got your neighborhood, your broader community. As you get larger and larger in these concentric circles, you can have everyone from an individual resident, who’s really taking interest and has the time to invest in looking at this information, to policymakers who are trying to determine where to point resources, specifically dollars, to academics who are trying to figure out where to do more research and investigation locally.

Q: What feedback have you received so far on the new data hub?

A: It has gotten much more traction than I had imagined that it would. I’ve been really surprised at how useful folks have found this platform, and how excited people have been about it. I’m always excited about data, as you know, being a data geek myself, but I was really surprised at how excited others were about this resource.

Check out the full conversation with Shivonne in our recent webinar or visit the new Community Health Data Hub to explore on your own.