Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute partnership with Accenture brings health professionals together for Health Equity Data Forum

Partners gather for HEDL Forum on 9.14.23

The University of Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society hosted the second Health Equity Data Forum on September 14th, 2023, in McKenna Hall. Leaders from corporations, healthcare systems, government and academia from across the United States convened at the University to discuss ways of using data as a force for good towards addressing health and healthcare inequities and disparities.     

With support from Accenture, the Lucy Family Institute launched the Health Equity Data Lab (HEDL) in late 2022 to identify and address healthcare disparities and to ensure equitable access to health and wellbeing. By leveraging responsible data use and AI, the vision of HEDL is to tackle some of the most intransigent healthcare challenges, specifically those at the intersection of clinical and social determinants of health. To overcome these challenges, HEDL is organized around four thematic areas for coherence: “precision social determinants of health,” “health workforce of the future,” “the health equity data index,” and “beyond human resources.” 

The Health Equity Data Forum serves as an extension of HEDL, providing a multidisciplinary and multifaceted meeting in which participants can collaboratively develop interventions that target healthcare challenges. The forum included panel and group discussions which aimed to identify existing healthcare gaps that are often experienced by underserved communities. 

Lucy Graduate Scholars and Health Equity Data Lab Grant awardees within the Health Equity Data Lab shared their research findings throughout the day.

Seham Kafafi, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Lucy Graduate Scholar, was among those who presented an overview of her work to advance Black maternal health, recognized as one of the precision social determinants of health within the Health Equity Data Lab. Kafafi’s research utilizes ArcGIS modeling to identify the gap in healthcare providers relevant to the black female population of communities within Indiana. 

A collaborative project presented by Margaret Traeger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Technology, Analytics, and Operations (ITAO) and Meenal Datta, Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering studies the role of racial disparities and social determinants of health in cancer incidence and outcomes using data science techniques including social network analysis, bioinformatics, and machine learning. Traeger and Datta received a Health Equity Data Lab Grant in 2023, and are currently recruiting a postdoctoral fellow to advance their research. 

“The University of Notre Dame has identified Health & Well-being as a strategic thematic area. These Health Equity Data Forums enable our partnerships with cross-sector leaders to grow into sustainable collaborations, in which we are working together across disciplines to go from innovation to translation for advancing common good ,” said Nitesh Chawla, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. Chawla, who is also the Founding Director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society further explains that, “only by working together, we can develop innovations that provide meaningful advancements to the well-being of individuals in our communities and beyond.” 

Michele Martin, an Accenture Health industry managing director and forum facilitator, described the day as, “an incredible day where senior medical, health, university, and SDOH leaders connected with peers across industries and defined opportunities to solve the health inequities and access together, in the communities that they serve.”

Future Health Equity Data forums are planned to occur annually each fall, with on-going working group sessions which work to address the four pillars of HEDL.

For more information about the Health Equity Data Lab, please visit the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society website


Christine Grashorn, Communications Specialist
Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.4856 / @UNDResearch

About the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society

Guided by Notre Dame’s Mission, the Lucy Family Institute adventurously collaborates on advancing data-driven convergence research, translational solutions, and education to ethically address society’s wicked problems. As an innovative nexus of academia, industry, and the public, the Institute also fosters data science access to strengthen diverse and inclusive capacity building within communities. Our vision is to become the preeminent intellectual beacon, inspiring collaborative, equitable, and impactful data innovations as a global force for good.