To serve our communities equitably, governmental health departments (i.e., state, local, Tribal, territorial and freely associated state health departments) need access to modern, real-time, hyperlocal data and tools. These are critical in understanding the needs of our communities, making data-driven decisions that address community priorities, and transforming public health infrastructure. Governmental public health in the United States currently lacks modern data systems and structures to do this, which have had a direct and negative impact on health and equity.

Equity in Data Systems Transformation Cohort

PHAB supports the modernization and transformation of data infrastructure and systems in governmental health departments. To learn more about what this looks like in action, four states were selected to participate in the Equity in Data Systems Transformation Cohort – Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and Washington.

These states will:

  • Focus on data modernization efforts as part of our 21C Learning Community 21C states will have access to peer learning and subject matter experts to advance their efforts in this area.

  • Implement the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems, with support for stakeholder and power mapping, to develop leading practices for advancing data systems that center equity.

  • Disseminate learnings and innovations with the field at large.

This work stemmed from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems. The Commission developed three recommendations that offer a blueprint for change:

  • Changing how we tell stories about the health of people and communities so equity informs meaningful narrative change.
  • Prioritizing governance of our data infrastructure to put equity at the center.
  • Ensuring that public health measurement captures and addresses structural racism and other inequities.

PHAB Excellence Recognition Program

To support public health advancement for health departments across a spectrum of performance, PHAB is currently developing an Excellence recognition program in the area of Data and Equity that will recognize Excellence that exceeds the Standards and Measures.

The Excellence recognition program will be piloted with the recommendations of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems. Criteria are currently in development but will focus on how health departments’ use of data and data practices center communities and build health equity.

Criteria might include:

  • Considerations for equitable representation and disaggregation of data (e.g., defining race and ethnicity categories in data gathered through surveys or case investigations);
  • Transparency in data use, retention, and sharing;
  • Open availability of data in machine-readable formats; and
  • Training community members and community-based organizations in use of health department data.

Through this work, we aim to:

  • Establish national criteria for health department data excellence that will focus on equity-focused, multisector data systems in collaboration with key partners.
  • Collect and share exemplary work as examples to help drive the field forward.
  • Ensure coordination across various national and regional initiatives focused on public health transformation and modernization to share practices, data, and align efforts as appropriate.