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.

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

Health IT Helps Track Zika Virus

ONC aims to aid public health efforts to track and combat the spread of the Zika virus through the use of health IT.

Learn more about how sharing pregnancy status with electronic laboratory orders aids in public health efforts.

Zika Tracking