As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, multiple studies and reports have documented that Black Americans and other people of color are at higher risk of adverse health outcomes.

Existing health disparities in the U.S. are heavily influenced by the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, known as the social determinants of health (SDOH). Health outcomes can also be influenced by differential applications of emerging technology and differential effects of climate change.

Governments can use open data about the impact of the SDOH, technology, and climate change to manage health care programs and services in ways that drive more equitable outcomes for patients and their families. Moreover, better and more available data, combined with the use of emerging technologies, can help illuminate the problem and support new solutions to address health risk and access in a way that reduces the potential for bias.

In April 2022, the IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Center for Open Data Enterprise (CODE), with additional support from the health management company ZeOmega, collaborated to host a discussion of these and related issues via a Roundtable on Open Data for Racial Equity in Healthcare. The event included a public webinar followed by a highly engaged virtual discussion with dozens of experts. This report draws on the insights shared in that session, as well as additional research led by CODE, to refine findings and develop actionable recommendations for government leaders.

The Roundtable included a diverse range of perspectives. Plenary and breakout sessions brought together academic and research stakeholders, civil society representatives, government officials, health care experts, and other private and nonprofit leaders. The wide and deep interchange of views provided a rich base of information from which to draw conclusions, which addressed technical data issues as well as organizational and process change.

This report builds on recent work of the Center that has addressed how governments can emerge stronger given continuing impacts from the pandemic, including Enabling a More Resilient and Shared Supply Chain Strategy for the Nation: Lessons Learned from Covid-19; Emerging Stronger and More Resilient: Responding to Covid-19 and Preparing for Future Shocks; Managing The Next Crisis: Twelve Principles For Dealing With Viral Uncertainty; and Covid-19 and Its Impact: Seven Essays on Reframing Government Management and Operations.

We hope that this report provides helpful perspectives for government leaders and stakeholders in designing effective and equitable strategies and programs that promote better health outcomes for all Americans.