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An Advocate Aurora Health research scientist was one of 42 grant awardees selected to participate in a prestigious national data-sharing mentoring program designed to improve community health.

Now in its fifth year, Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) forms collaborations between health care, public health, social services, housing, education, transportation, law enforcement and the private sector with the goal of empowering communities to make better decisions that lead to healthier communities through multisector data sharing.

Sarah Reimer, MD, a clinician investigator with Advocate Aurora Research Institute and the Center for Urban Population Health, leads the project locally, with the help of a one-year, $5,000 grant. She received coaching and technical assistance from DASH Mentors at the Center for Outcomes Research and Education in integrating data necessary to determine eligibility for her recently announced local Transitions Clinic program and to measure cross-sector impacts during the first year of its implementation.

“We will be integrating data on health care utilization, justice system contact and housing instability,” Dr. Reimer said.

The Transitions Clinic model will serve historical Advocate Aurora Health patients who are returning to Milwaukee County following incarceration. In other locales, the Transitions Clinic model has been shown to reduce subsequent justice contact by an average of 25 jail days per year and to reduce probation and parole violations. This benefits state Medicaid services through decreased health care usage and the justice system through a reduction in jail utilization and in probation and parole associated costs.

“We plan to integrate information across sectors with the support of mentoring through the DASH program. We plan to use this information to do a cross-sector cost-benefit analysis in support of making the case for Community Health Worker funding to the Wisconsin legislature,” Dr. Reimer said. “This is necessary to make the program independently financially sustainable.”

The Transitions Clinic program is currently partially funded by a one-year, $50,000 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge subaward presented to Advocate Aurora Health by the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council.

DASH is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Illinois Public Health Institute, in partnership with the Michigan Public Health Institute, serves as the Program Office for DASH and assists grantees as they develop, implement and evaluate their funded projects.

“Advocate Aurora Research Institute is honored to be part of DASH to strengthen the flow of information between health systems and critical community services in the Upper Midwest to support our mission of improving the health of our underserved communities through research,” said Kurt Waldhuetter, vice president of research development and business services for the Research Institute.

DASH facilitates peer-to-peer learning through a system of mentor-mentee pairings. Advocate Aurora and others were paired with Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Providence Health and Services. DASH cultivates relationships among community information initiatives by helping to build a virtual network, which will provide expert guidance, technical assistance, shared knowledge and facilitation of cross-sector stakeholder engagement.

“DASH is excited to add so many new communities to our learning collaboration. We are not only building local community capacity across the country but advancing the field of multisector collaboration as a whole,” said Peter Eckart, DASH co-director at the Illinois Public Health Institute. “By cultivating these collaborations, we will be able to document new learnings, foster teaching connections and amplify our reach.”

DASH announced a third round of funding for local collaborations that are early in their multisector data sharing journeys. Applications open Monday, Dec. 7. An informational webinar is available Wednesday, Dec. 16.