Accelerating States’ Data Modernization Efforts

Over the past several years, data and surveillance have played an increasing role in the effort to identify, prevent, and control disease outbreaks across the country. Events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have amplified the need for unified, real-time public health data.

Data Modernization Workshop for States

Date Modernization Initiative

The Data Modernization Initiative, led by CDC’s Deputy Director of Public Health Science and Surveillance, is working across CDC to create world-class data and analytics that will accelerate lifesaving prevention and response activities.​​​​​​​

In May 2021, the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII), hosted a three-day virtual workshop, Data Modernization Workshop: Building on Shared Services and Enterprise Technologies, to further enhance data modernization efforts and bring data guidance directly to state, local, and territorial health departments.

A collaboration with CDC’s Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS), the workshop prepared informatics leaders to guide data modernization in their jurisdictions. It provided them with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to restructure their data systems using modern technologies and approaches, and to build informatics capacity in their workforce. The workshop was for recipients of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) Accelerating Data Modernization in Jurisdictions Cooperative Agreement.

“Data modernization needs to be a coordinated effort across all levels of public health, which includes our efforts at CDC and in the public health jurisdictions. The workshop provided a collaborative forum where the jurisdictions could share ideas and strategies. We were pleased that attendees left with concrete steps to accelerate planning and implementation,” said Lesliann Helmus, Associate Director of Surveillance in CDC’s Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance.

Thoughtful Sessions to Inspire Action

infographic of three c's for data modernization: coordination, collaboration, consensus

Participants learned the three C’s for data modernization during the workshop.

The workshop consisted of a combination of diverse, dynamic sessions, including presentations led by public health and informatics leaders and hands-on interactive sessions to build skills and strategies that support data modernization plans.

The workshop was divided into the following three themes:

  • Day One—Consuming and receiving data: Focused on the importance of evaluating core and existing data modernization elements to see where improvements can be made with enterprise approaches, security enhancements, and interoperability.
  • Day Two—Using data: Provided an opportunity to showcase the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology efforts to align data elements across jurisdictions and how they can participate in these efforts through the United States Core Data Interoperability (USCDI) Initiative.
  • Day Three—Sharing data: Emphasized the importance of disseminating data that are useful and usable to the public health community while ensuring that data and privacy are protected through clear policies and data sharing agreements.

Jurisdictional Challenges in Implementing Data Modernization

This workshop also provided an opportunity for jurisdictions to share their challenges in implementing data modernization efforts, including:

  • Staffing shortage: It’s challenging to recruit and retain the right people with the right informatics, information technology (IT), data science, and analytics skills.
  • Funding timeline: Jurisdictions expressed concerns around receiving a large investment with a short execution-period.
  • Leadership buy-in: Jurisdictions are justifying and making the case for data modernization investments to their leadership.
  • Creating interoperable systems: Many jurisdictions are doing great work to modernize their data systems, and they would benefit from guidance and tools to also make these systems interoperable.

Moving Forward to Make Progress

CDC recently launched a new Data Modernization Implementation Support website, which will serve as a resource for jurisdictions and partners who are implementing data modernization efforts in three main areas:

  • Improving surveillance and data systems
  • Expanding laboratory data exchange
  • Building the public health workforce

CDC is working with jurisdictions by providing funding and technical assistance to address challenges and help modernize information technology and data systems and build the public health workforce.

CSELS, in collaboration with the ELC program, is administering $200 million in a new, two-year program that will support data modernization efforts for the 64 public health jurisdictions that are part of the ELC Program. This is a partnership among CSELS, the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and the National Center for Health Statistics that will help state, local, and territorial partners enhance core infrastructure, scale up electronic case reporting, and modernize the National Vital Statistics System.

Through the ELC cooperative agreements and the PHII workshop, jurisdictions are continuing to collaborate with colleagues and CDC to make faster, better-quality data for public health a reality.