Opening Remarks

Chesley Richards (CDC)


All levels of public health, from the local level to the national level, struggle to obtain timely, accurate, and actionable information from electronic health records. The current data environment too often relies on cumbersome, non-electronic methods for data exchange that can pull frontline public health officials and clinicians away from essential work and result in data omission and errors. Although methods for electronic data collection are available, several still cannot be implemented at scale without significant effort.

Key Takeaways

Significant Transformation is Needed to Ensure Public Health can Access Data to Help Protect Communities

Currently, health systems provide data to public health through multiple channels. Too often, the burden of implementing these solutions is so high that frontline public health professionals are forced to fall back on phone calls, paper forms, and faxes. As a result, clinicians are unduly burdened with filling out paper forms instead of delivering needed care, or they simply do not report what is needed to public health.

Although there have been pockets of innovation regarding electronic data exchange, public health traditionally hasn’t had the resources or the will to scale new approaches broadly. Without significant transformation, public health reporting will continue to be beset by delays, incomplete information, and missed opportunities.

Unprecedented Resources are now Available to Address Long- Standing Issues with Data and to Create Modernized Systems

Thanks to funding for data modernization and through supplemental appropriations, public health is getting resources that are truly unprecedented to address data issues and to create the kinds of data systems required to meet longstanding needs.


Input is Being Sought from Innovators to Help Define and Build the Future of Public Health Data Interoperability 

Input from innovators can help bring about long overdue transformation in public health reporting.  This is the first of many listening sessions that will bring together experts from state, local, and federal governments and the private sector to hypothesize how data collection efforts supported by CDC can be more modern, adaptable, scalable, and sustainable.