National Conference on Health Statistics
Draws Nearly 1,000 Attendees
After three information-packed days of hands-on and educational sessions, oral and poster presentations, and exhibits, the 2010 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) National Conference on Health Statistics was a complete success!
Our 2010 National Conference on Health Statistics was held August 16-18, 2010, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. This conference showcased the capabilities and achievements of NCHS in the fields of health, health data, and health statistics. Close to 1,000 attendees participated in hands-on workshops, attended educational sessions, and visited exhibits.
This year’s conference featured a slightly different format based on feedback from previous conferences. The first day of the conference featured hands-on sessions and educational sessions. There were also three plenary sessions this year instead of one as in past years. Also for the first time, NCHS invited speakers from outside organizations to present their own work on NCHS-related topics whereas previously only NCHS speakers led sessions.
Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a variety of 24 hands-on and educational sessions on the full range of NCHS data systems. Hands-on sessions were held in an interactive, classroom-style setting where participants used computers to work with data from specific NCHS surveys and other online data sources. Educational sessions were conducted in a theater-style setting, with one or more speakers presenting information on data topics derived from NCHS surveys and other sources of data. Speakers covered a wide variety of topics important to NCHS and the field of health statistics, including NCHS surveys, health care data, vital statistics, and many more.
The first day of the conference was given great reviews by participants, said Anthony Quintana, a hands-on session leader for “Finding Key Resources From NCHS.” “People felt like they got a lot out of it – they gained a lot of new knowledge and experience about the breadth of the NCHS website,” he said. “Everyone I talked to really seemed to enjoy the day.”
Day 2 of the conference featured the first of several exciting and informative plenary speeches. NCHS Director Edward Sondik welcomed attendees and spoke of NCHS’ response to the enormous demand for public health data. CDC Director Tom Frieden delivered the keynote address with a compelling speech on his vision for the data needed on public health. Attendees also viewed a video that highlighted 50 years of NCHS.
The second day of the conference also welcomed attendees to walk through the exhibit and scientific poster presentation halls, where they were able to meet a large number of NCHS exhibitors and representatives from other organizations that specialize in the dissemination of statistical information. A total of 25 exhibitors displayed booths at this year’s conference, including those from every major NCHS program and a number of exhibitors from outside organizations. Exhibit staff dispensed valuable information and advice on getting the most out of their data systems to all attendees who stopped by.
At lunch, attendees were given the opportunity to meet with senior NCHS leadership in an informal setting, another new addition to the conference format. After lunch, the second plenary session began. This session featured keynote speeches by Katherine K. Wallman, Chief statistician of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget; Robert M. Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and Constance F. Citro, Director of the Committee on National Statistics. These speeches focused on the innovations and challenges in keeping accurate statistics on a growing population, as well as the importance of collaboration between the 13 agencies of the Federal Statistical System and the impact of NCHS.
Feedback for the conference was overwhelmingly positive. “I always set aside my time to attend NCHS’s Data Users Conference because that is a "one stop shopping" for most of the data that I regularly use,” said John Park, a senior public health analyst at the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “This year’s conference was especially meaningful because of the plenary focus on the 50th anniversary of NCHS.”
Dorothy Rice, former Director of NCHS and professor emerita at the University of California, San Francisco, said she was “positively thrilled” with this year’s conference. “The plenary and other sessions were outstanding,” “I am so pleased that I came across the country to attend the conference.”
After another round of scientific sessions, Tuesday evening featured the conference reception, sponsored by a number of organizations including the CDC Foundation, the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, and the Population Association of America. Attendees were able to greet NCHS staff and join them in celebrating the 50th year of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Turnout at the reception was impressive, said Barbara Wassell, a conference attendee from NCHS. “People seemed to stay right up to the very end of it, meeting and talking with people,” “It was an exciting time.”
Day 3 of the conference began with the third and final plenary session, “Measuring Health,” which featured a keynote speech by Michael C. Wolfson of the University of Ottawa. Dr. Wolfson’s speech focused on the challenges of measuring health and explored advances in the development of summary measures that can be used to monitor the health of nations and to evaluate the impact of health policies.
After several more concurrent sessions in the morning, conference participants were able to attend a second informal lunch with NCHS senior leadership. Eighteen more educational sessions wrapped up the final day of the 2010 National Conference on Health Statistics.
Overall, the conference was a major success, said Barbara. “This was my first NCHS conference,” “I thought everything looked fabulous. It was impressive the way it all came together.”