What are we doing to reach our goals?

The Why, What, and How of Data Modernization

With the Data Modernization Initiative, we’re taking a unified and strategic approach to solving public health’s challenges.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

  • We are not just patching individual problems but creating a broad foundation that can be built on.
  • We have listened to people within CDC and to our partners at every level of public health to find the initial steps that are the most urgent and will be the most achievable.
  • We have created a strategic implementation plan that outlines our next steps toward creating a modern, high-speed, networked public health infrastructure that will work for all diseases — and all people.
    • As we follow this strategy, our efforts will continue to align with the work of our public health and healthcare partners who have been critical in supporting, shaping, and executing DMI, as well as with key federal policies.
    • We have been using this strategy to guide our investments and will continue to use it as we implement the next phase of DMI.
  • Together, we are focused on the data, people, and policies we need to move the country forward.
    • Just as surveillance is about more than just outbreak response, DMI is about much more than just technology.

Modernization means reimagining what data can do — and what we can do with data.

  • It means creating a shared, common infrastructure to deliver high-quality, real-time information for public health decisions.
  • DMI is not just about “having data” but what the data are used for.
  • Whether that’s a clinician prescribing an antibiotic, or someone in public health looking at cases to decide where to allocate resources, public health data are used by all different kinds of people in all kinds of different ways.
  • Our central mission with DMI is to move data when and here it’s needed to support public health decisions.
  • We need to have every system talking to each other in real time — from local communities, to states, to national and global networks — to stay ahead of whatever comes next.
    • The data we use to protect public health come from many different sources and travel through a multitude of systems from the local to the federal level and back again.
    • What’s really notable here, and what distinguishes DMI from business as usual, is that we’re not so much changing the “what” of this data flow, we’re focused on the “how.”
    • DMI is finding new ways to automate and connect this data flow at every step of the way.
  • We know it’s not enough to simply connect the pipes, we have to create a robust infrastructure that helps the data flow across our ecosystem. For example:
    • We’re working closely with partners to develop a “north star” data architecture that offers flexible but standardized ways for our STLT partners to get connected.
    • We developed an enterprise solution for data, analytics. and visualization that is already being tapped into by many CDC programs to help with all kinds of different needs and has allowed them to reuse instead of build from scratch, saving considerable time and costs.

Modernization is about people. When we look at this future state we want to get to, we know we’re not going there alone.

  • As the proverb says: “If you want to go far, go together,” and we recognize that everything we do has a ripple effect across all of public health.
  • DMI is focused on creating and strengthening connection points with our partners, giving our workforce the support that’s needed to modernize and gain better insights from the data, and helping people we serve make timelier and better decisions for health.
  • Maybe the biggest difference in today’s DMI efforts is the commitment as a community that we have around this effort toward shared success.
    • Partners from across public health, research, academia, private industry, and this community have been with us every step of the way.
    • Through DMI, we’re working closely with CDC Foundation toward better mechanisms to strengthen public-private partnerships.
    • We’ve also formed a DMI Partner Consortium, which just launched in March 2022, to bring input and ideas to key activities.
  • Within CDC’s walls, we’re connecting people in new ways.
    • For example, we’ve created cross-cutting implementation teams that reach across our centers and programs to find shared solutions to shared problems.
    • And we’ve already begun using these diverse teams to unlock the answers to large public health challenges and to lay out specific objectives for DMI.

Modernization relies on getting data where it needs to go to protect health. We need to ensure the right policies, authorities, data use agreements, and relationships are in place to support modern data exchange.

  • For example, promoting adoption of specific standards, like FHIR standards, can drive change at a massive level.
  • We’re also exploring how the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, or TEFCA, can support data exchange.
  • A big next step for modernization is working with our partners to make data available across all of public health at the same time and in the same ways, whether an emergency is happening or not.