Data Modernization Initiative (DMI)

At a glance

The ultimate goal of CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative (DMI), funded by Congress since before COVID-19, is to get better, faster, actionable insights for decision-making at all levels of public health.

Data Modernization Initiative: DMI at  CDC

What is DMI?

Data saves lives. Better data saves more lives.

The Data Modernization Initiative (DMI), launched by CDC at the end of 2019, signaled a significant transformation in public health data management across the U.S. Funded by Congress before COVID-19, the urgent demands of the pandemic secured additional emergency funding.

This infusion of resources allowed for the rapid deployment of tools and technologies aimed at combating COVID-19, such as advanced disease surveillance systems and data analytics platforms. Importantly, since FY2020, CDC has invested more than $1 billion in state, tribal, local and territorial (STLT) data modernization at jurisdictions. DMI has significantly influenced public health data practices, promoting a culture of continuous improvement and broadening its impact beyond its initial priorities.

This initiative has catalyzed a shift in how public health data is collected, viewed and used, underscoring the vital importance of ongoing modernization. Programs outside the initial scope are now leveraging these systems, investing their own resources, and contributing to a culture that values continuous improvement in data utilization for public health.

A Transformative Journey

Since its inception, DMI has been iterative, evolving from the CDC's 2014-2018 Public Health Surveillance Strategy. DMI then informed the development of the Public Health Data Strategy (PHDS) in 2023. PHDS, developed by the Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology (OPHDST), plays a pivotal role in driving progress and provides a more strategic approach to data modernization by outlining specific goals and objectives. It acts as a roadmap for implementing innovative solutions and accelerating progress in public health data management. The future of DMI involves deepening and fostering a one public health approach under its umbrella.

Data Modernization: Accelerating Data into Action

Understanding the synergies between DMI and PHDS is crucial for maximizing their impact and ensuring the continued relevance of these data-driven priorities.

The PHDS builds on DMI to solve several problems facing the nation's public health ecosystem.

One major issue is the presence of siloed information across disconnected and/or proprietary disease systems, which are often driven by disease-specific budget lines. This fragmentation prevents a comprehensive understanding of public health data. Additionally, the public health workforce often possesses outdated skills and requires training to effectively use today's technologies.

There is also a significant burden on providers in healthcare and at health departments, who must send data to multiple destinations in various formats. Many health departments are hampered by older technologies that are not flexible, do not utilize cloud solutions, and are not scalable. Furthermore, the patchwork of policies and the variable landscape of data collection and reporting across the nation complicate the rapid response to emerging threats.

A long-term problem is that the healthcare data ecosystem has historically excluded public health, which has fallen behind as federal incentives and regulations have enabled healthcare systems to easily share data automatically in electronic health records. This exclusion exacerbates the challenges in integrating public health needs with the broader healthcare data infrastructure.

DMI helps the PHDS meet its goals:

DMI serves as the vehicle for broad transformation, encompassing major improvements in public health data and systems, along with essential components needed to carry out the work. This includes developing a state-of-the-art workforce, expanding partnerships, fostering culture change, and establishing unified governance to steer the efforts effectively.

The PHDS accelerates DMI:

The PHDS lays out important steps that drive DMI priorities forward faster, highlighting what is most meaningful and achievable over limited timeframes. It focuses on identifying actionable goals that are expected to yield the most impact, ensuring that efforts are both strategic and effective in advancing the initiative's priorities.

Data modernization is not a "one and done." It is an ongoing, comprehensive, and long-term effort involving CDC and STLT public health departments, other federal agencies, and healthcare partners.

For more detailed insights into DMI's progress and impacts:

  • Notable Milestones: Trace the evolution of DMI from its inception to its current impacts.
  • Funding DMI: Understand the financial foundations and allocations that fuel this initiative.
  • DMI Stories from the Field: See how jurisdictions throughout the country have used DMI investments and innovation to improve health and save lives:
  • Annual Reports: Review yearly reports to see how priorities are set and implemented.
    • DMI Snapshot 2021: Explore DMI's first annual report and how we established priorities.
    • DMI Snapshot 2022: Discover what "better data" entails through on-the-ground examples of data modernization.
    • PHDS Lookback Report: OPHDST Public Health Data Strategy: 2023 Year-End Lookback Report: From Insights to Impact