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CDC Quickens Ability to Respond to Health Threats

April 15, 2024

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its updated Public Health Data Strategy for 2024-2025 and a companion 2023 Lookback Report. First launched last year, the strategy outlines the data, technology, policy, and administrative actions essential to address challenges in data exchange between healthcare organizations and public health authorities and between state, tribal, local, territorial, and federal public health authorities.

The strategy advances the priorities of the CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative (DMI).

“We need a modernized public health data infrastructure that is seamlessly connected to the healthcare data and information technology ecosystem to effectively protect the health of communities across the country,” said Mandy Cohen, CDC Director. “Data are the oxygen that powers our ability to detect and respond to health threats. Early detection and monitoring of health threats rely on timely data in order for us to investigate and respond effectively.”

According to the report, a standout achievement during 2023 for the CDC was the increase in the number of healthcare facilities implementing electronic case reporting. Electronic case reporting, or eCR, helped move data quickly, securely, and seamlessly from healthcare facilities to state, tribal, local, and territorial public health agencies on actionable threats. More than 36,000 healthcare facilities can now send electronic case reports, up from more than 25,000 in early 2023.

In addition to the increased adoption of eCR, the CDC reported other key achievements, including:

  • Expanding electronic laboratory reporting. 90% of CDC labs now electronically share data with external partners, such as state, territorial, local, and tribal health departments.
  • Routinizing real-time reporting. 78% of U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs) provided data to CDC within 24 hours through the National Syndromic Surveillance Program.
  • Improving data access in rural communities. 380 critical access hospitals (CAHs) across the U.S. have implemented eCR, up from approximately 300 in early 2023.
  • Establishing the Respiratory Virus Data Channel. This tool on the CDC’s website offers data visualizations and up-to-the-minute viral respiratory findings for COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It has received more than 4 million visits since it was launched in September 2023.

The CDC’s updated strategy for 2024-2025 shares the organization’s priority work for the next two years, including:

  • Further accelerating the adoption of eCR to ensure rapid detection of novel and emergent threats and diseases. The updated strategy includes milestones on further increasing adoption of eCR among CAHs.
  • Connecting public health to health IT to enable faster sharing of data. The updated strategy includes milestones focused on use of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, or TEFCA, which helps establish a pathway for data sharing with healthcare systems and providers.
  • Expanding core data sources that are critical for detecting threats early and monitoring in real-time. In addition to new milestones for eCR, ED, lab, and vital statistics data, the updated strategy includes milestones focused on strengthening exchange and improving sharing of additional core data sources such as wastewater, hospitalization, and hospital bed capacity.
  • Prioritizing data to address health disparities and promote health equity. The updated strategy milestones include increased reporting on additional social determinants of health-related data.

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