With Congressional funding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a data modernization initiative (DMI) focused on improving the data management capacity of public health in the US. The major focus of this initiative is on investments in both people as well as systems and data to improve public health response. Over the next few years, we can expect to see not only several new funding streams for both Federal and state, territorial, local, and tribal (STLT) governments, but also the infusion of DMI concepts and funding into existing programs and activities. From a technology standpoint, HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) are a key enabler for DMI. CDC has begun to promote its Northstar Architecture as a key enabler of data modernization.
For many CDC programs, DMI is about improving ways that CDC acquires data from STLT agencies, and tools and strategies promoted by CDC (particularly early on) may seem more narrowly focused on that goal. But it is important for agencies to look for ways that DMI can improve and strengthen their local infrastructure as well. It is unclear whether DMI will be perceived or experienced as stronger Federal influence or control over STLT public health activities.
Software and services
Currently, HLN is active in supporting DMI through the PHII-led Learning Collaborative as well as extensive work in various aspects of electronic case reporting (eCR) primarily through our ongoing support of RCKMS and related projects. In addition, HLN is working on several FHIR-related projects including CDS Hooks capabilities in our open source ICE immunization evaluation and forecasting system. Finally, we are starting to add FHIR services to some of our immunization information system (IIS) projects.
HLN is prepared to help agencies think strategically about the role of DMI in the agency, as well as prepare solutions that leverage DMI philosophy, strategy, and tools (CDC Is referring to some of these reusable components as “building blocks”).
Public health agencies should expect increasing engagement from CDC. While workforce development for public health informatics is a major goal, in practical terms agencies may have difficulty increasing their informatics capacity due to internal jurisdictional hiring practices and challenging marketplace conditions for technical positions.
These are important community/industry activities related to DMI and FHIR. Agencies should participate as they are able:
- CDC Consortium for Data Modernization
- CDC HL7 FHIR and Beyond Community of Practice (requires access from CDC to participate)
- HL7 Helios FHIR Accelerator for Public Health
- PHII DMI Learning Community
- Public Health FHIR® Implementation Collaborative (PHFIC)