Public Health

Public health focuses on preventing disease, diagnosing health conditions, and promoting health

Through the use of advanced technical solutions, public health entities can leverage health information technology (IT) to prevent disease, diagnose health conditions, and promote health for an entire population of people rather than one person at a time. Health IT is essential to improving community and population health outcomes. Health IT can improve population-level decision-making by improving the quality and quantity of health data available to public officials. For example, electronic reporting of conditions improves the accuracy and timeliness of data needed to identify and track disease trends. Electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchanges (HIEs), community information exchanges (CIEs), and other public health information systems are sources of information that can provide important health data about specific populations and can be vital in addressing many types of public health concerns.


Additional Resources

ONC Final Rule and Public Health

The 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule (Final Rule), published May 1, 2020, implements key interoperability requirements outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act. The Final Rule includes provisions that relate to and affect public health agencies and the information systems they steward—namely provisions concerning patient access, health IT certification, and information blocking.

CDC Listening Session

Public Health Data Modernization: Listening Session on Real-World Testing of 21st Century Cures Act Requirements (July 2020)

Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE)

What is PULSE™?

The PULSE™ initiative is an effort to create national resilience through access to health information during disasters, including public health emergencies. ONC developed a new PULSE technical solution in July 2020, called PULSE Community Edition, to enable first responders and health care volunteers to access vital health information during disasters.

ASTHO Reports

Two New Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ (ASTHO) Reports

These two reports explore the legal landscape of public health data sharing and opportunities for improved immunization data sharing with health information exchanges. Developed with support from ONC and with input from key partners, these reports provide decision-makers with context and considerations for enhancing data sharing for informed public health action.

2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Monthly EHR Vendor and Public Health Webinar: 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Health IT (February 2020)

Download the slides [PDF - 2.68 MB]
Tools and Resources for the Health IT and Clinical Community

Health IT Playbook's Public Health Sections

Visit the Health IT Playbook to learn more about health IT's role in public health. Learn more about related topics, including:

  • Strengthening Care Management
  • Using Population Health Management Tools
  • Supporting Public Health Data Reporting
  • Participating in a Patient Registry

Health IT Playbook


Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.

Learn more about telehealth and telemedicine.