CDC debuts 1st public health data strategy

The CDC has released its first-ever strategic plan on public health data, which aims to "help our nation quickly respond to health threats, promote health equity and improve health outcomes," the agency said in a May 3 tweet.

It can take longer than 12 months for "data on some reportable conditions to become available in national datasets or be disseminated in accessible and interoperable format," the report notes —  which is one of the many issues it hopes to address in modernizing public health data nationally. 

The 20-page document outlines several key public health missions, which it notes all have two-year accountability milestones through its new Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance and Technology. The office will be responsible for overseeing the execution of the plan's data modernization efforts, including identifying ways to "address gaps in public health data" nationwide.

The plan's four goals look to strengthen the core of existing public health data systems, speed up access to analytics and automated solutions in the space, visualize insights to inform actionable recommendations, and develop interoperability across public health data as a whole.

Some of the other major challenges the plan notes that it will begin to address include:

  • Around 70 percent of healthcare organizations use fax to send or receive care records.

  • With current systems, epidemiologists can spend up to 80 percent of their working hours simply cleaning data due to the lack of interoperability.
  • More than six months is what is typically required for systems to develop and rework data use agreements.

The CDC also notes that it will "establish an internal steering committee to provide guidance on longer term PHDS, monitor and provide input on progress; establish mechanisms to solicit programmatic input and identify priority needs."

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