Winners of the Closing the Data Divide Challenge Revealed

Data collected by primary care providers can be a useful tool in helping public health officials understand health trends within a local community. That information can then guide public health professionals when developing local health interventions and policy. At the same time, primary care providers can benefit from public health insights on local social and environmental conditions that their patients live in as well as guidance on emerging global health risks.

However, there aren’t many mechanisms or processes that promote the exchange of data between these two groups. The “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge, sponsored by the de Beaumont Foundation and the Practical Playbook, incentivized the development of novel technologies to break down silos between primary care and public health and facilitate the exchange of more timely and granular data to advance population health.

“Closing the Data Divide” opened in October 2015 and received submissions from designers, developers, and entrepreneurs working in the health technology and innovation space. PHRASE Health took top honors in the competition, with HealthStead coming in second place and Healthcare Access San Antonio in third.

About PHRASE Health: Developed by Marc Tobias, MD and Naveen Muthu, MD, Clinical Informatics Fellows at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PHRASE (“Population Health Risk Assessment Support Engine”) creates a two-way flow of information with an EHR-embedded tool and web portal. The web portal allows public health professionals to define risk factors, which alerts clinicians within the EHR when a patient is from an at-risk population – for example, an individual from a neighborhood with a known lead paint problem or someone who has recently traveled to a country where Zika is present. The interface also provides one-click reporting to allow primary care providers to alert public health officials when they identify new cases of infectious disease.

About HealthStead: HealthStead connects primary care and public health professionals with neighborhood level data on education, income, crime, and other factors that have an outsize impact on health outcomes. HealthStead software sets itself from existing competitors by facilitating efficient comparisons between and among small areas (e.g. census tracts, block groups). Because neighborhood indicators like household income, violent crime, home vacancies, blood lead levels, and internet access can vary from block to block within cities, HealthStead’s intuitive and flexible interface represents a marked improvement over previous attempts. HealthStead was developed by Adam Perzynski, PhD, Meaghan Fenelon, Eamon Johnson, PhD, Sarah Schick, and Tynan Smith.

About Healthcare Access San Antonio: Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) has created a local health information exchange that aggregates patient information and provides the local health department with insights into patient groups that have sought clinical care in a given time period. At the same time, a reports portal called HASAFacts distributes up-to-date information on community health outcomes and place-based resources for community health activities. HASAFacts also allows healthcare organizations to analyze the results of their patient treatments and assess their success in managing population health. One of the strengths of the HASA solution is that its data source has already reached a critical mass, as all San Antonio Hospitals are participating and contributing data. HASAFacts is a critical component of HASA’s technical platform and receives clinical input from Vince Fonseca, MD, MPH, FACPM and Anil Mangla, MS, PhD, MPH, FRIPH. Phil Beckett, PhD provides HASA’s day-to-day management of the program.

The de Beaumont Foundation, the Practical Playbook, and Health 2.0 thank all of the individuals who participated in the “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge. We hope that this challenge showcases the potential for synergy between primary care and public health. By working together, these groups can exchange useful data and develop strategies to improve the health of local communities across America.

For more information on the “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge, visit

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