The acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first office exclusively dedicated to creating public health data strategies said her team is developing a strategic roadmap to promote interoperability and health equity over the next two years.

Jennifer Layden, acting director for the Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance and Technology, said the agency was taking the lessons it learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and embarking on a new mission that involved modernizing and improving nationwide access to public health data.

The goal is part of an enterprise-wide effort at the CDC to improve outcomes and promote health equity at the local, state and federal levels. Research has shown that enhanced data interoperability can help improve public health equity and patient outcomes.

A Government Accountability Office report published last year identified a series of challenges impeding data sharing during public health emergencies, from a lack of common standards and isolated data systems to a complex public health information technology infrastructure that makes information sharing even more difficult.

The report found that health officials across the country had to manually input data into numerous systems in the early stages of the pandemic due to the lack of IT system interoperability, and that state health departments were unable to directly exchange data with the CDC, potentially delaying decisions surrounding the federal response to COVID-19.

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