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CDC 24/7 - Saving Money Through Prevention - New York City's Success

Informing health care providers about asthma

Young girl coughing

What is the problem?

Each fall NYC sees a large increase in hospital stays and in emergency department visits for asthma, especially among children. Illness rates in the fall can be three times higher than rates during the summer. Possible reasons include infections among children returning to school, seasonal pollen, and cooler weather.

What did Tracking do?

The NYC Tracking Program analyzed childhood asthma data. It used the results to write messages for health care providers. The messages—sent through the city's Health Alert Network—urged providers to update patients' asthma management plans in time for school year start.

Improved public health

In the last few years, the seasonal fall mailing to health care providers and other asthma prevention activities have coincided with a decrease in rates of NYC hospital stays among children. Because of the program's success, advisories to health care providers have become a standard practice at the beginning of each school year in NYC.


Making restaurants safer

Restaurant server setting tables

What is the problem?

Foodborne illness is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem across the United States. The New York City (NYC) Tracking program estimated that foodborne illnesses in the city are responsible for

  • about 7,000 hospital stays each year,
  • about 20,000 emergency department visits each year, and
  • thousands of cases of diarrhea every day.

Approximately half of all foodborne outbreaks reported to CDC can be linked to restaurants. In NYC, more than half of all foodborne outbreaks are restaurant related.

What did Tracking do?

NYC's Tracking Program shared this information with the NYC Board of Health. The Board of Health used the data to revise the health code to require that all restaurants post letter grades of A, B, or C in public view. The letter grades show how well or poorly a restaurant was rated during sanitary inspections. The goal of this new rule is to provide diners with easy-to-read information about the safety of their food and to motivate restaurants to maintain good food-safety practices.

Improved public health

Now NYC diners can make informed decisions about which restaurants to choose. A survey conducted in July 2011, and repeated in February 2012, showed that 90% of all New Yorkers approve of grade posting and most of them consider grades when deciding where to eat. The inspection grading system was designed to encourage restaurants to improve their food-safety practices rapidly. If a restaurant does not receive an A on its initial inspection, the Health Department conducts a surprise second inspection about a month later. The tracking program evaluated this approach and found that restaurants greatly improved their food-safety practices between the first and second inspections. Preliminary reports also suggest that reported Salmonella cases in NYC are down.