Public Health Data Sources & Assessment Tools:
Resources to Measure Access and Health Disparities
Updated August 2009

I. A Note on Data Integration

The proliferation of information technologies has spawned a sometimes overwhelming diffusion of health information available in both print and electronic formats. To coordinate data collection and centralize access to the most useful information, all states have undertaken both policy-oriented and service delivery-oriented data integration activities. Links to each state’s on-line local health data services are available in Appendix I.

The HHS Directory of Health and Human Services Data Resources is a compilation of information about virtually all major data collection systems sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Directory was developed under the auspices of the HHS Data Council, which serves as the department's senior internal data policy body and advises the Secretary on a variety of data policy issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains CDC WONDER (Wide-ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research) an easy-to-use, menu-driven system that makes the information resources of CDC available to public health professionals and the public at large. It provides access to a wide array of public health information including CDC publications (title, author, abstract) and other bibliographies; the Chronic Disease Prevention bibliographic files; the Healthy People 2010 Objectives and associated data sources; all of CDC's official prevention guidelines; a calendar of public health training courses and resources at CDC and elsewhere; CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal and other health information.

HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, in partnership with states and in response to calls for improved leadership around performance measurement and accountability for the Title V MCH Block Grant Program, launched the electronic Title V Information System (Title V IS). The Title V IS electronically captures data from annual Title V Block Grant applications and reports submitted by all 59 U.S. States, Territories, and Jurisdictions and provides information on key measures of maternal and child health (MCH) in the United States. The system allow you to search and sort information by state, range of years, performance measures, types of MCH services, levels of spending, and other categories.

The National Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI) Project - Health officials in local jurisdictions have consistently identified the need for easy-to-use county level health information. In response, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and Public Health Foundation (PHF) collaborated to develop Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI) Reports for all 3,082 counties in the U.S. in 2000. This effort produced standard, comparable health status reports for all counties in the U.S. The CHSI reports featured a standard set of indicators for each community, providing standard data elements and comparisons that are not readily available to the majority of local communities.

The Public Health Informatics Network (PHIN) was developed by CDC, and its partner organizations, to strengthen communication among all levels of public health (local, state, and federal) and other critical information systems. The goal of PHIN is to integrate various forms of electronic data systems to communicate information about the public’s health and possible threats of bioterrorism.

The National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS) is an initiative that promotes the use of data standards in federal, state, and local surveillance efforts. The system is designed to streamline data exchange between the clinical and public health sector, enhancing timeliness and quality of data.

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) collects data on infectious and non-infectious adverse events associated with health care delivery in order to compare a healthcare facility’s rates with national performance measures. As of June 27, 2007, NHSN is available to all health care facilities. Currently, NHSN has over 600 participants and is utilized in 45 states.

The Environmental Public Health Tracking Network collects, integrates, analyzes, interprets, and disseminates data on environmental hazards, exposures to those hazards, and related health effects.

The Health Alert Network (HAN) makes sure that communities have timely access to emergent health information, trained health professionals, evidence-based practices, and procedures for successful public health preparedness and response.

BioSense is a national program aimed at improving the nation's capabilities for disease detection, monitoring and real-time situational awareness through access to existing data from healthcare organizations across the U.S.