In Their Own Words: DMI Supports State and Local Partners
Modernization means less paperwork…and more help for people in communities
CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative collaborates closely with public health departments across the nation, offering resources they can use to make meaningful improvements that protect the health of people in their communities. This means they spend less time on manual processes like paperwork and data entry, and more time using data to generate lifesaving ideas and insights.
State and local jurisdictions are benefitting directly from DMI, and we are already hearing many examples of real, on-the-ground successes.
“We had all these ideas, but we didn’t have the resources or funding. With DMI funding, DC was able to rapidly implement many changes – some in just a few weeks.”
– Matt McCarroll, Chief of Laboratory Operations, Washington, DC, Public Health Laboratory
Thanks to electronic lab reporting, epidemiologists in the Washington, DC, lab no longer waste time manually standardizing information on big piles of spreadsheets that have come in by fax. They also saved time by using DMI funds to hire dedicated informaticians and automating test ordering systems, reducing a 48-hour process to 12 hours.
“DMI is a tremendous opportunity to make a big leap forward for public health. And COVID has definitely highlighted the importance of doing this.”
– Philip Huang, MD, MPH, Director, Dallas County Health and Human Services and Chair-Elect, Big Cities Health Coalition
More granular vaccination data – down to the census block level – has allowed Dallas County’s health workers to know which doors to knock on, focusing on 17 zip codes where their most vulnerable residents live and bringing pop-up vaccination clinics right into neighborhoods.
“Not only does DMI help with better, more detailed, quicker data, it provides options so that we are not reliant on a single source of data during a major crisis like a pandemic.”
– Angela Dunn, MD, MPH, Executive Director at Salt Lake County Health Department and CSTE President
Combining data from criminal justice, homelessness, health data, and vital records data has allowed Salt Lake County to understand the opioid abuse problem more holistically. When the data identified a cluster of fentanyl-related deaths, they sent more fentanyl test strips out through syringe providers, saving more lives.
“We are so thankful for the DMI funding and are enthusiastically enhancing and supplementing our small, but mighty workforce to tackle the data surveillance and infrastructure improvement projects that were on our ‘when we have the money’ list.”
– Kathryn Turner, PhD, MPH, Deputy State Epidemiologist, Idaho Division of Public Health
In Idaho, electronic case reporting (eCR) is being used to catch cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a dangerous condition that can strike children weeks after COVID-19 infection. An evaluation of medical records in 2022 indicated that, among Idaho facilities that had implemented eCR, no cases were missed.
“This is a solvable problem. We may not know everything about a pandemic, but we can always find ways for data to connect.”
– Anne Zink, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska and ASTHO President
The free SimpleReport app that CDC developed with the US Digital Service filled critical gaps in COVID case reporting in remote rural areas, in schools, and in the fishing and tourism industries Alaska’s economy relies on. SimpleReport was a “huge game changer,” enabling the state to go from calls and faxes to an automated tool.
A big driver of progress is the Data Modernization – COVID supplemental award, funded through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement, which awarded $200 million to 64 public health jurisdictions for a two-year program to improve core infrastructure, scale up electronic case reporting, and modernize vital statistics.