ONC and CDC Working Together to Strengthen Public Health Systems, Tools, and Practices that Keep Us Safe

Ryan Argentieri and Jen Layden | September 8, 2022

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health staff have worked tirelessly to make sense of the extraordinary volumes of data coming at them at different times and in different ways. Because much of this information is unstructured or non-standardized, epidemiologists, scientists, and others must first bring these data into alignment before the real work can begin. The more differences there are in the data, the more painstaking the is work for people on the frontlines trying to put the pieces together fast.

It is a tremendous burden, and one that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working together to fix.

ONC-certified health IT is often the primary source of important data to public health, such as electronic case management and syndromic surveillance from emergency department visits. ONC is engaged across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to align and coordinate health-IT related activities. From maintaining an expanding set of standardized data classes and elements for interoperability (via the USCDI), to establishing the infrastructure and a universal floor to support it (via TEFCA), ONC is helping lead the way for standards development and adoption across HHS and industry.

To enable our nation to become more capable of preventing and responding to future health threats, ONC is closely coordinating with the CDC Data Modernization Initiative and other cross-agency programs to help strengthen the systems, tools, and practices on which health agencies rely. One of our primary goals is to develop and adopt data and technology standards so that public health officials are able to act more swiftly, share insights more effectively, and have a greater impact in their communities.

CDC and ONC are working side-by-side with partners across public health, private industry, philanthropy, and academia to:

  • Ensure that public health professionals have greater awareness of, and a seat at the table, when data and technology standards are being developed and adopted nationwide.
  • Provide public health professionals access to richer and more timely data in ways that put less burden on both data providers and public health agencies.
  • Establish modern, scalable, cloud-based capabilities for public health professionals to analyze, interpret, and act on data more quickly and securely.

Together, ONC and CDC, in close coordination with state and local officials, will identify and champion solutions focused on real-world needs of the public health community.

In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss how this important standards and infrastructure work can continue to improve and support better public health, and how ONC and CDC are working closely on these efforts. Make sure to watch the keynote update on ONC-CDC joint data modernization at ONC Tech Forum on Friday, September 9 at 11:00 am ET, or watch it on-demand the next day!