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Harvard Research Project to Focus on Transparency, Technology for Improved Health

October 3, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A Harvard Kennedy School research center has announced a new project in which researchers will examine how advances in transparency and data sharing may lead to better health outcomes.

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, part of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., will lead this research initiative, “The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health.”

According to a press release announcement, while new digital platforms promise to empower patients by allowing them to produce and share their own health data and connect with other patients and doctors, evidence still shows that data sharing often fails to mobilize patients, that translating information into better health can be problematic, and that vulnerable populations might be left behind by information tools.  

As such, the project, funded through the support of The Commonwealth Fund, will look to produce a series of case studies and an academic article on platforms that empower patients through information. Researchers will develop an inventory and typology of initiatives to better understand which characteristics are more likely to support patients’ use of transparency tools to improve their health. Ultimately, these findings could potentially fill a critical gap in the literature and can improve the design of future digital platforms to improve people’s health, according to officials.

“With this project, we want to clarify the pathways between transparency and better health, understand how new technologies are helping patients reap the benefits of transparency and social connection. We will explore whether these digital innovations are helping everybody or only the most tech-savvy among us” said Archon Fung, Ph.D., the project principal investigator and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship and Academic Dean at Harvard Kennedy School.

Further information on the project can be found at www.transparencyforhealth.ash.harvard.edu.

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