Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Database Interoperability: Technology and Process for Sharing Resource Information

Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems 2004. Used by permission.


Information and Referral (I&R) programs provide a critical connector in the health and human service delivery system. I&R programs include those that offer specialized information about services (such as respite services) or are targeted at a specific population (such as seniors), and those that offer comprehensive information about a broad range of health and human services. I&R services enable individuals, families, and staff from helping agencies to identify, understand, and access programs and services. However, I&Rs have struggled to easily share the information in these rich resource databases. Technical and process barriers have frustrated the exchange and merging of resource information. I&Rs who are committed to sharing data have been forced to use the same software product or to apply less than optimal technological solutions that result in lost data elements or time-consuming and awkward workarounds each time services or programs change.

Because I&Rs are unable to easily share resource information with one another, multiple I&Rs may find themselves allocating scarce resources to identify and maintain the same resource information about services in their communities. Multiple, isolated databases may exacerbate the already complex system of health and human services, requiring persons (particularly those with complex access or service needs) to make numerous contacts before finding an appropriate referral. Data sharing between I&Rs would enable seamless provision of information. This article will explore the technical and process solutions that are being applied to enable sharing across software products.

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