Sharing health data woes. Perceptions of data sharing barriers from employees in a Midwest health care system

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)

Committee Chair

Karen Lankisch

Committee Member

David Meckstroth

Committee Member

Olivia Pollard


Health data are being created daily at diverse locations for a multitude of purposes. With the advent of electronic health record (EHR) systems, data are stored electronically, and the sharing of data should be seamless and transparent. However, this ease has not emerged (Holmgren et al., 2017). There is a complex policy and enforcement environment operating in the creation and sharing of health data. Unintended consequences seem to confront every piece of new legislation or health care regulation. Data sharing is incredibly complex from a system perspective; add in physicians’ perceptions about the quality of data, and the resulting system quickly becomes a tangled web of computer code, data integrity, and possible data-sharing violations. Creating effective mechanisms for health-data sharing among organizations is difficult. Complex databases, created by profit-seeking companies and then customized for specific health systems, yield a confusing landscape when trying to map data between systems, even with the same vendor-supplied software. This qualitative study used twelve personal interviews to discover themes around barriers to sharing health data. Participants in this study reflected on the struggles and anxieties with data-sharing activities. The resulting analysis highlights possible changes in policy, technological advancements, and organizational activities to ease health-data-sharing burdens. Factors emerged from this research to touch on how data is kept secure, transparent, and private, all at the same time. The highest ideals would indicate that sharing activities should be seamless, easy, and risk free.