Data Modernization Leads to Increased Detection of Health Threats, CDC Says

April 16, 2024
CDC data modernization increases the ability to detect and react to health threats.

On Thursday, April 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in a press release the updated Public Health Data Strategy for 2024-2025 and a companion 2023 Lookback Report.

The press release stated, “The accomplishments of 2023 better positioned our nation to detect and respond in near real-time to health threats and inform the public by better connecting public health to healthcare data systems and advancing tools that streamline work.”

A key accomplishment during 2023 is the increase in healthcare systems adopting electronic case reporting (eCR), from 25,000 earlier in 2023 to more than 36,000 healthcare systems now. This “helps move data quickly, securely, and seamlessly from healthcare facilities to state, tribal, local, and territorial public health agencies on actionable threats.”

Another accomplishment is the expansion of electronic laboratory reporting, which, according to the CDC, helps speed up the distribution of critical information to health departments, allowing timely awareness of public health threats.

Through the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, 78 percent of emergency departments (EDs) provided data to the CDC within 24 hours. This helps detect and monitor health threats, such as infectious diseases, and non-infectious threats, such as wildfires.

Data access in rural communities has also improved, allowing faster data sharing. Health departments use these data to identify disease trends in rural communities.

Furthermore, the CDC established the Respiratory Virus Data Channel, which provides a snapshot of crucial viral respiratory illness findings. Since its launch in September, the tool has received over 4 million visits.

The future strategic direction “[p]laces a strong emphasis on connecting public health data systems to healthcare data systems, advancing health equity, and prioritizing investments to bridge gaps in access to advanced tools,” according to the CDC. Focus areas will be accelerating the adoption of eCR to further ensure quick detection of threats and diseases, connecting public health to health IT to allow for faster data sharing, expanding core data sources critical for monitoring and detecting threats, and prioritizing data that addresses health disparities.

“We need a modernized public health data infrastructure that is seamlessly connected to the healthcare data and information technology ecosystem to effectively protect the health of communities across the country,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., in a statement.

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