Opening Up Health Data for All
From injuries to disabilities to infectious threats, more data than ever is available for researchers, policymakers, and the public.
Open data is about meeting people where they are. The goal is to provide everyone with the data they need to answer their most urgent questions: What do I need to know as a parent? What are the biggest threats to me and those I care about? What’s going on in my community?
Brian Lee, Associate Director for Informatics in CDC’s Influenza Division, says one important aspect of open data is that “you don’t need to hire an IT person to use the data — practitioners and journalists can just use it.”
Public datasets are needed for open government and transparency, to promote research, and to be more efficient. When it’s connected, open data gives us the power to make more comprehensive statements about the nation’s health, a state’s health, or a community’s health.
That’s why we’ve been working in 2022 to share more open datasets, provide the data faster, make it easier for people to use, and create links between datasets to gain new insights. For example:
- Data.cdc.gov: In 2022, we added 150 new datasets to data.cdc.gov, for a total of 914 datasets now available. The open datasets found at data.cdc.gov are easy to use because of a standards-based, modern application programming interface, or API, that’s compatible with more users, more tools, and more services. They include high-priority topics like vaccination, smoking, injury, pregnancy, mortality, disability, and more.
- CDC COVID Tracker: We also continued improving data available on the CDC COVID Data Tracker, which brings together 64 data feeds to provide data for action on important topics like vaccines and community case levels. Our COVID-19 Case Surveillance Public Use Files have been viewed more than 1.2 million times to date, providing information on age, sex, race, and ethnicity while still protecting individual privacy.
- CDC WONDER: CDC WONDER allows researchers and others to use data to build customized tables that fit their needs. With CDC WONDER, about 5 million users per year have access to 20 data collections with over 100 unique datasets. Recently, we added provisional mortality data to CDC WONDER, making preliminary death data available to the public in weeks, not months or years.
Open data is one of the most significant innovations we’ve seen in public health data modernization. It transforms how we gather data, and how we release timely information to the public. Thanks to open data, more people than ever are finding the data they need, right when they need it.
For the first time ever in 2022, we pulled together death data from 8 different systems across the agency into a new structure for mortality reporting. This new view of the data helps us answer important questions about trends in COVID-19–related mortality, such as:
- How has the risk of COVID-19–related mortality changed overall and for specific demographic groups?
- How effective are vaccines at reducing the risk of dying due to COVID-19?
- Is COVID-19 the underlying cause of all reported COVID-19–related deaths?
- Where do most COVID-19–related deaths occur?
- What do we know about patients who died while hospitalized for COVID-19?
- Are evidence-based medications that can reduce COVID-19–related mortality being used, and in which patients?
Explore the full report at: COVID-19 Data Review: Update on COVID-19-Related Mortality.